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Hawaii 2014 Recap

March 31, 2014

*There were some issues with my website transition… so please click here for this full post!


Each and every year I look forward to our annual family vacation, but this year we mixed it up a bit, which resulted in my favorite trip yet! Here are a few fun things we added to our itinerary (make sure to check them out if you ever are in Maui!)…

  • Restaurants
    • We had a slightly larger group this year, and going during spring break can be a bit of a struggle to schedule reservation-wise, but here is what we did (tip: make reservations as soon as possible – as in months in advance, you can always cancel)
      • Sansei Sushi – I advise 7pm reservations – there isn’t a view from this resaturat, so feel free to head to the Ritz next door for cocktails and the sunset, then enjoy the best sushi on the island (Must Haves: Mango Crab Hand Roll, Panko Ahi Roll, Sansei Special Roll)
      • Honu – This on-the-water restaurant is one of my favorites.  It is worth leaving the beach early to score a 5:30pm reservation because the sunset view can’t be beat (must haves: Skinny Chi cocktail, burrata appetizer, oysters, kale salad and macarons)
      • Mala – Honu’s sister restaurant, Mala is another one of our favorites.  Another spot where the early bird gets the worm, the view is gorgeous and food is amazing (must haves: ahi bruschetta, mahi mahi ceviche and Mai Tai cocktail)
      • Cool Cats or Cheeseburger in Paradise – both of these spots have great burgers and are great spots for a relaxed dinner after a day in the sun.  Cheeseburger in Paradise has a great water front location and Cool Cats has great live music every night… both have amazing burgers.
      • Star Noodle – This delicious noodle house is owned by a top competitor on Top Chef.  It doesn’t have an amazing location so I recommend a 7pm or later reservation – you won’t be catching any sunsets from there, but don’t let that deter you for stopping by – the food and decor are great (must haves: garlic noodles, ahi avo, pad thai and pork belly bacon and eggs.
      • Leoda’s – The same chef heads Leoda’s kitchen, and this place is so good my family went twice in ONE DAY. It’s super chill, and a great spot for grabbing breakfast or dinner when you need a night to chill.  You can BYOB with no corkage fee which is great too! I highly recommend picking up some goodies for your flight back home – they even have a airline lunch pack available (must haves: fried salad – I’M OBSESSED, breakfast sandwich, and any of their pies).
  • Sail and Snorkel Day 
    • Each and every year we look forward to setting sail on the Hula Girl.  The food, service and boat are all next level, and the few extra bucks you’ll pay (compared to the Teralani, Trilogy, Gemini, etc.) are well worth it (in my opinion).
    • This trip we were a hundred yards away from breaching mom AND baby whales.  It was crazy.
    • Also, make sure to get the fresh fish special for lunch, although I hear the pulled pork is great for all of you meat eaters.
  • Paia Day
    • Hiked Twin Falls at the entrance of Hana
    • Check out the surfers at Kuau Cove or go for a walk on the beach
    • Grab lunch in town at Paia Fish Market
      • We highly recommend the fish tacos or Mahi Mahi burger
      • GET there early (they open at 11am) and there is always a line
    • Head into Rock & Brews for a pre-beach Pina Colada (BEST of the trip!)
    • Enjoy some shopping in town (Letarte Swimwear and Tamara Catz Boutique are great stops)
    • Pack a towel and make your way down to the beach for a couple hours (a little windy, but some great surf – bring a boogie board!)
    • Cool off at Tobi’s Shaved Ice
      • MUST order their Poke there.  We had the Sriracha topped one… WOW.
      • Obviously don’t forget the snow cones… and make sure to get it with the macadamia nut ice cream!
    • Grab a drinking coconut for the drive home at the Maui Coconut Station on Honoapiilani Hwy

Overall it was a VERY memorable week with all of my favorite people. It’s so nice to have a trip that leaves you feeling refreshed and ready to go… sad to leave the Aloha state, but happy to be back! IMG_0565


Anniversary Party – Planning and Prep

August 8, 2013

I believe preparation is key.  My sisters and I were fully able to enjoy the day and even spent the afternoon poolside – and not running around doing last minute errands (for the most part :)!

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This is the first event where I delegated more tasks, and although financially it may not be the most sound choice, I HIGHLY recommend it for special events (ie. a cleaning lady, a caterer). But we did take on a lot of tasks ourselves, but with 3 helping hands and months to prep we were happy with the turnout.

Here was our checklist and preparation schedule:

To Do List

Prep Timeline

I also created a binder for this event (surprise! surprise!) with tabs for the following:

  • Menus (contained dinner menu, appetizer menu and grocery/shopping lists)
  • Rentals (contained contracts, rental invoice for tables, flatware, linens, etc.)
  • Invitations (contained invitation, guest/RSVP list)
  • Timeline (contained to-do lists, timeline, schedules, checklists, etc.)
  • Inspiration (contained Pintrested images of ideas we wanted to implement)
  • Layout (contained backyard layout of stations, tables, etc. and seating chart options)

Having everything in one place (contracts, images, lists, etc.) is super helpful to me and something I REALLY recommend.  Plus after your party is complete you have a guide on how to replicate your event!

I also wanted to share some little details that we were proud of!

Place Cards – we searched long and hard for a clever, fun idea on place cards and couldn’t find one we liked!  I had read in Lisa Vanderpump’s entertaining book (don’t judge) that she uses little framed photos of her friends for place cards and I thought wouldn’t Polaroids be a fun, contemporary spin on this!? When each guest arrived we had them pose for a quick photo and then we added the image to their seat before dinner.  It made for an amazing conversation starter and a great keepsake! (I recommend letting guests grab a cocktail or two before… makes for better pictures 🙂

Personalized Details – I love the idea of a few personalized details at an event and I felt for this party, a modern, metallic monogram would be just the thing.  I found a website called Society Social which makes very high quality, custom items and we were excited to grab up the matchboxes and napkins for the party!

30th Anniversary Party 154Menus: I’m also a huge fan of printed menus.  Whether that is a large sign, or individual settings, it makes it much easier than explaining which each course is.  I downloaded a fun font via and printed the menu on some gorgeous, heavy stock. I cut it down to plate size and used it as part of our table setting. Menus: I’m also a huge fan of printed menus.  Whether that is a large sign, or individual settings, it makes it much easier than explaining which each course is.  I downloaded a fun font via and printed the menu on some gorgeous, heavy stock. I cut it down to plate size and used it as part of our table setting. 30th Anniversary Party 366Flowers: I will go to my grave repping Costco flowers… all it requires is a little planning and you will save oodles on gorgeous blooms!  For the party I bought 200 white roses, 100 calla lillies and 100 hydrangeas for under $400! I mean you can easily spend $200 for a couple dozen roses at Valentine’s Day! Such a joke. Anyway… You have to order them precisely a week and a half before your event date, but you can pick which date you’d like them delivered in a two day window and once the blooms arrive channel your inner Martha and get to designing.  I have been collecting glass vases the past few months, so I made sure to follow my flower prep guide and make arrangements accordingly!

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With a little planning, some preparation and a few little details I believe you will have a slam dunk party every time! Entertaining is a love language, and what better way to share the love than going the extra mile? Happy planning!


30th Anniversary Party

August 5, 2013

My parents will be celebrating their 30th Anniversary this week, so we thought what better way to mark this major milestone than with a party?! My sisters and I have been working on this for quite a while…  so I wanted to share it with you all!


Throughout the week I’ll be highlighting some of our favorite parts of the planning process – what to wear, what to serve, details not to miss! But today I wanted to focus on food and the menu… and better yet a great new company for those of you who live in the Bay Area or LA – Kitchit!  The company provides private chefs that can accommodate any event type – anything from a 5 course menu for 2, to a causal family style feast for 30.  Another feature I found really cool is you can split the bill online, so you can book as a group!

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We were lucky enough to have Chef Anne help us out – her food is amazing, she’s super nice/professional/fun/accommodating and we definitely are looking forward to hosting another event that she can help us with!  Here is her fabulous family-style menu for us (my mom is gluten-free, she created a menu that would reflect that… and make my dad happy at the same time!):


Heirloom Tomatoes, Burrata & Basil with Cornbread Croutons

Arugula Salad with Grilled Peaches, Marcona Almonds, Ricotta Salata and Shallot Vinaigrette

Tuscan Dry-Rubbed Chicken with Chimichurri

 Summer Fruit Shortcakes with Whipped Creme Fraiche

30th Anniversary Party 210Recapping the event today, my sisters and I couldn’t have been happier with the party – from great wine and food, to some memorable toasts and stories, and finishing with Fireball and a dance party, it definitely was one for the books… looking forward to the 50th anniversary party! Love you Mom and Dad!


Wedding Week – Top 10 Tips

July 12, 2013

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Here are a few things I wish I would have known before the wedding planning process (I wish I wrote this list a year ago when everything was fresh, but here is what still sticks with me… 52 weeks later…):

  1. Go with the flow.  Something is bound to go wrong (not in a pessimistic way… it just most likely will).  So if there is a typo on your invites or a groomsmen gets sick the day of the wedding, just roll with it… because in a year you will forgot all of those life shattering “hiccups.”
  2. Don’t forget about tax and gratuity. When creating our budget Jeremy and I forgot about a little thing called gratuity and tax that they tack on to your bill.  This number can be anywhere in the $100’s to $1000’s of dollars, so be aware when budgeting.
  3. There are no rules.  Luckily our generation is figuring it out and learning that you don’t have to have your wedding “a certain way.” J and opted out of a first dance, throwing the garter or anything we weren’t excited about/comfortable with.  Some people may look at you funny, but at the end of the day it’s your day!
  4. Hire a videographer.  Every advice column I read said to hire one and I ignored their advice… and now I regret it.  I would love to watch our vows again or listen to my dad and sister’s speeches… there are so many fun memories that a picture can’t fully capture.
  5. Keep an eye out for hidden fees.  We had to negotiate our way out of fees for everything from bread rolls (vs. sliced bread) to extra heaters.  Be aware of these ahead of time, so you are smacked with a giant bill when you get back from your honeymoon.  Also, be aware of little things you may forget to put in your budget – postage for invites/thank yous/RSVP cards,
  6. Splurge on open bar.  This obviously is down to personal preference/budget, but I would advise cutting in other areas to make this happen.  It is a nice touch and ensures that everyone is having a blast on the dance floor 🙂
  7. Don’t forget other events.  If you are having a destination wedding of any kind, don’t forget to include the rehearsal dinner, activities, brunch/lunch, etc. into your budget.  Welcome bags are also a nice touch for out of town guests. We bought these cute bags (our last name is Beaver), and filled them with treats we bought of Amazon (sunscreen, Pop Chips, Fiji water, candy, Advil, etc.) as well as an itinerary and welcome letter.
  8. Timelines.  Everyone says how fast the day goes (which is does), but we made sure to take in the little moments (all your loved ones sharing a meal with you, dancing to our favorite songs).  I also made a timeline (ahead of time), to have a better idea of what needed to get accomplished when.  I also made a chart with all vendors names and contact info, as well as the time they’d be arriving.  It was helpful to know when and where someone would be should an issue arise.
  9. Pick your battles. No matter how close you are to a family member/friend, something will come up that will not have the easiest solution.  Maybe it’s guest list additions, or your mom wants you to wear her (very 80’s) wedding dress.  Take a deep breath, hear them out and pick your battles.  It isn’t worth getting into a giant fight over a plus one.
  10. Enjoy your day!  You just spent a huge chunk of your (and your parents, and your husbands, and your husbands family’s) savings, so make sure to try every appetizer, eat your dinner, dance with your family and laugh with your friends!  This is your day!

For more of wedding tips/suggestions check out the following:

Planning and Prep

Venue and Vendors

Decor and Dresses

Gowns and Garb

* Images by John Plus Louise Photography