Sunday, November 6, 2011

Family Pictures 2011

Sorry I've been away, but we've been busy.  I am going to try to be better about writing in here (I know, I say that all the time, but maybe if I write it enough it will actually happen).

We took family pictures yesterday! Here they are for your viewing pleasure:

There are more, but I'm finding that the more people are in the picture, the more difficult it is to get everyone to look at the camera!  I can completely understand why people photoshop their kids' heads from one picture into another.  As a matter of fact, I did that exact thing last year! Someone's eyes were closed, so I copied some eyes from another picture onto the one I wanted. Luckily, we got some great shots this year. Special thanks to my wonderful mother-in-law for taking the time to take them for us!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Travel Town

We headed back to Travel Town in Griffith Park with our playgroup a while back. The kids had so much fun! It was one of the last times Ben got to play with Bonnie before her family moved away (to a great job!). The kids loved looking at all the trains.

(edit: Rotated picture for you. - Stephen)

So I can't figure out how to get that last picture to be right side up, but it's rare that I can get Ben to smile for a camera these days. We had a good time, and we'll go back soon!

Friday, September 16, 2011


Last week Stephen went to New Jersey on business and I stayed with my parents for the week.  I hate how I seem to digress into a 17-year-old whenever I visit, but I like to think I did better this time at maintaining my own age.  You know, cleaning up after myself, helping with chores while I was there, watching my children.  The things normal adults do. Have I mentioned how great my mom is? That she makes my every visit feel stress free, even when I'm doing work with her?

Anyway, I brought a bunch of projects and my wonderful mother helped me get things together and watched the kids so I could get some of them out of the way.  She is amazing.  She also came to my house to help me today. I asked her to come and she did, because she is a super mom.  Sometimes I just wonder how she does it, she is such a great mom, because sometimes I feel like something is missing in me.  Sometimes I look at my kids and I just don't know what to do.  They're happy, their basic needs are met.  But something is missing.

I have been feeling lately like I need to reevaluate my parenting.  I am coming to realize that raising children is just so much more than taking care of them and their needs.  Argh, how do I voice this without sounding terrible?

My mom is great.  I love watching her when she is with my children because I feel like she shows me how to be a mom.  She plays with them, asks them questions, shows them interesting things, gets them snacks, and makes them feel important.  I see it in Ben's face every time she visits.

I am good at making lists and goals and meeting specific needs.  Ben is thirsty? Get him a drink.  Sophie is cranky? Feed her, hold her, pacifier her, rock her, put her down.  We're not saving as much as we'd like? Reevaluate the budget spreadsheet.  Dishes are dirty? Do the dishes.  Fridge empty? Plan meals and shop.  I am good at concrete things like that.

I think that I try to fix a situation and move on to "the list."  It is easy for me to feel like I've accomplished something important this way.  That I'm taking care of my children by taking care of the household.  But is it the best thing I should be doing?  I don't think so.

I think I get Ben comfortable and step away too quickly.  I think I spend too much time on the computer.  I think I need to involve my children more in my tasks and, more importantly, I think I need to be a bigger part of theirs.  I need to stop and play.  I need to listen.  I need to sing and dance with them.  Teach them the best of what I know and love. I think I need to be as attached to them as I possibly can.  Before they get older and start pushing me away.

I'm going to try something drastically different from the task-oriented way I've been living.  I'm going to set for myself two to three things each day that are the most important concrete goals so I feel like I've accomplished something and then devote the rest of the day to spending it with my little children.  For example, tomorrow my goals are to (1) get caught up with the dishes, (2) vacuum and (3) keep the computer off.  The rest of the day I hope to spend playing trains, making pizza with Ben, and cuddling a not-feeling-so-well Sophie.  I think this is realistic enough for me to feel like I'm still maintaining a household and still spend time with the children.  Perhaps I just need to work on our quality time?

I know this post is a bit heavy, but that's what I'm feeling right now: the weight of raising two little ones to be happy and fulfilled children who trust that their mother will be there for them.  The pressure is enormous sometimes.  I just need to take it easy and be there for them.

On that note, what ideas do you have for spending time and playing with your children at home? How do you pass the time in a meaningful way?  Ideas would be very much appreciated.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Menu Planning: Chicken Stock and Brown Rice Pilaf

Meal planning is something I am still researching, so I was browsing the interwebs and came across this wonderful blog- Word of Wisdom Living.  It's a reference to the Latter-day Saint doctrine of the Word of Wisdom and I am blown away by the amount of information he provides- everything from scholarly journals to life experiences.  I was posting in a discussion over there on menu planning (and wrote a TON) so I thought I'd share what I wrote. :)


I have only been menu planning for about 6 months, but I have a few things I'd like to share.

First things first- get to know what your family eats.  Write down meals that your family considers "normal."  This will save you a lot of brain-wracking trauma and will keep you from getting overly ambitious with changes and burning yourself out.

When getting ready to go shopping the first thing I do is check my inventory, especially what I have left from the previous week in my fridge- the fresh stuff that needs to be eaten right away. I start getting some ideas for what I'd like to use my ingredients for and check the circulars. 

I live in Southern California like Skip [the blog author], so I shop at similar stores (Costco, Sprouts/Henry's, and Stater Brothers) and look for the best deals. I look for cheap cuts of meat that can be used in lots of ways.  I know some people are more picky about their meat, but I try to serve it to my family conservatively and it's not an issue for us (at least not right now). I really like using whole chickens because you can get a lot out of them for .80-.99/lb.  I like to cut them up myself and make stock from the back and gizzards though most grocery stores will cut them up for you free of charge (but not all).  I use the stock whenever I make rice, gravy, soup, or sauces. 

Crockpot Chicken Stock

Chicken Parts (back, bones, gizzards, etc)
1 carrot
1 stalk celery
1 onion, cut in half

Place chicken parts, carrot, celery and onion in crock pot.  Fill with water, leaving about 1-2" space at the top.  Cover and set on low.  Cook about 10-12 hours. Take out crock, take off lid and allow to cool.  Pour through a sieve into a bowl, discarding parts and vegetables (or you can eat them), and place stock in your fridge (you don't want it too hot or it will have adverse affects on the temperature of your fridge).  Loosely cover and allow to cool until fats solidify on the surface.  Skim away fats and store. (We keep the chicken fat and use it to cook with.  Beware- don't put it in an already hot pan or it will sputter like crazy.)

Get to know prices for items.  We use rolled oats a lot and, believe it or not, the best price was a bulk bag at the regular grocery store and not at Costco like I expected.  I am working on a pocket-sized notebook to keep track, but for now, it's all memory (or little notes in my planner).

I made a template on my computer for my grocery planning and print it out each week.  It keeps me focused on what I need to plan for and makes menu planning that much easier.  I plan on Tuesday nights (So my weekly list is Thursday-Wednesday) because that's the day the circular arrives.  You don't have to plan Monday-Sunday.

Lunches are hard in my house because my husband comes home for lunch and doesn't like sandwiches.  I have a hard time coming up with something that's quick and healthy, and usually one of those criteria gets sacrificed.  Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

We recently switched from white rice to brown rice, a decision my husband still occasionally scoffs at (though I will admit, white rice is just so fluffy).  I like to make kabobs and rice pilaf- we use peppers, onions, and pineapple.  We use 1 cubed chicken breast to feed our family of 3, though it doesn't feel skimpy when served with our brown rice pilaf:

Brown Rice Pilaf

2 T butter (or olive oil)
1/2 medium onion, diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 c brown rice
2 1/2 c chicken broth, vegetable broth or 2 1/2 c water + 1 t salt

In a medium size skillet (with a lid) melt butter over medium heat.  Add onions and sautee until translucent.  Add garlic and cook about 30 seconds to 1 minute until rendered (you can smell it).  Add rice and sautee, making sure it gets coated, about 1-2 minutes.  Add broth, season to taste with salt and pepper, turn heat to high and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer about 45-50 minutes until liquid is absorbed.  Check occasionally and add more broth or water if needed.

I went a little crazy with this post, but menu planning is a point I firmly believe in.  We have saved SO MUCH money by planning, it is ridiculous.  We cut our grocery bill nearly in half just by planning our meals.


So that's what I shared over there and I wanted to make sure I shared it with you, too.  Happy meal planning!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

The Three R's: A Thrifty Way to Store Bags

Let me just say, for the record, that I am not into the "green movement."  I have lots of opinions about it that, for the moment, I will keep to myself.  I do, however, believe that we are required to be good stewards of the earth and that there are merits and (frugal) benefits to living in a conservative way.  I also believe that using the three "R's" (recycle, reduce, reuse) is a good way to save money and be responsible for all the excess stuff we seem to have.

I want to share with you an effective way of storing your old plastic bags from the grocery store.  I know they are getting a lot of flack right now, but we reuse them all over the house as garbage liners, sack lunch bags, and wet bags for the beach, pool, or a kid's unfortunate accident (though I am using cloth grocery bags most of the time now).  This storage bag is made from things I had lying around the house already and is a great way to recycle old remnants from sewing.  It features a drawstring at one end for easy access or something to hang it from, plus an elastic opening on the other side.

You can easily grab a bag out of the elastic opening.  This project can be done by a beginning sewer and it will save you precious cabinet space!

  • Fabric- mine measured 1 yard x 1/2 yard, but you can do any size you'd like as long as it's rectangle-ish in shape.  Mine was fairly large. An old dish towel would work fine.
  • Thread
  • Elastic- at least 10", braided preferred, though whatever you have left over from other projects should work great.
  • A Shoelace- My husband's Vans came with two sets of shoelaces and, let's be honest, who changes those out? Ever? Anyway, the point is to use what you have lying around.
  • Sewing machine
  • Iron and board
  • Rotary cutter and self-healing mat or scissors (if you sew at all, I highly recommend investing in a rotary cutter system- it will make your life so much easier!)

Step 1 Square off your fabric.  You can skip this if you are using an old towel.  Do this by folding it in half, lining up the finished ends and cut the edges (that the fabric store made uneven) straight. If you don't have a mat, use something to help you with the 90 degree angle, like a book.

Step 2 Fold your fabric in half "hot-dog style." With right sides facing each other, sew along the long end of your rectangle.  Iron seam open.  At each end, fold and iron your fabric about 1/4" (again, you can skip this step with a towel).

Step 3 Fold and iron your fabric up one more time to make a casing that won't fray.  I folded one end about 1" up for my shoelace casing and the other about 1/2" for the elastic casing. 

Step 4 On the shoelace end, mark where you want to put your shoelace hole(s). I chose to have 2 holes, one for each end of the string, right where the long ends were sewn together and on the outside of the casing.

Step 5 Open up your casing and sew your shoelace holes using the buttonhole setting on your machine (don't mind how terrible mine are... I feel like I have to relearn how to do them every time).  Using a seam ripper, open your button holes.

Step 6 Sew the shoelace casing all the way around.  I didn't leave much of a seam allowance because I didn't want any plastic bags to get caught on open edges.

Step 7 Sew your elastic casing and leave 1-2" open.

Step 8 Using a safety pin (or in my case, a paper clip) insert your elastic through the casing.  I just took out my big spool of elastic I had laying around and didn't cut it to size until I had drawn it through.

Step 9 Sew your elastic at the length you would like, making sure you leave a little slack so you can get your hand through the hole.  Trim off excess and sew the casing closed.

And you're done!

This project really opened up a lot of cabinet space for me! I didn't realize how out of control it all was...



What a difference, huh? 

Monday, August 29, 2011


I think I need to simmer down just a bit.

I have been doing a lot of research on healthy living, and while that's a positive thing, I've noticed that I haven't been taking care of the other important parts of my life.  Obsessing over using white sugar vs. honey or organic vs. regular produce is stressing me out.  It feels like it's a never ending can of worms; once I feel like I've made progress towards a more healthy, traditional lifestyle with our food, something else pops up.

The result of all my time researching healthier lifestyle changes is that I feel inadequate.

While I think it's important to work on improving ourselves throughout our lives, I've felt like someone's expecting me to be able to bench press 200 pounds.  I am just not capable of making that amount of change all at once- at least not yet.

So, I've thought deep and hard about why I do things.  Why do I feel the need to improve our lifestyle?  Why on earth do I cloth diaper (and even enjoy it)?  Why do I shop at three different stores for groceries? Why do I stay at home instead of getting a job?  Why do I want to have more children? Why do I cook food from scratch? Why do I do all these things when sometimes they are just plain difficult?

The answers, for me, are two fold.  First, I enjoy it.  I love seeing improvement.  I love to make things more beautiful.  I love cooking something that tastes fantastic.  I love knowing that I saved a bunch of money because of the work that I've done.  I love watching every moment of my children growing up.

Second, and I think this really is the clincher, I am trying to nurture an eternal family with strong, enduring bonds.  A few weeks ago I was struck with the what this means to me: I am in charge of giving my children the best possible circumstances to grow up as strong, successful people with motives governed by a perspective for the long term.  I am trying to help ourselves become the best we can.

Typing that out made me feel a little stressed out. Deep breaths, Alicia. Deep breaths.

I think understanding the why- my motives and desires- will help me determine my priorities for my family.  I don't need to stress out about the fact that I am (as yet) unwilling to give up white sugar or lysol.

It's okay for me to rearrange my priorities for what will work best for my family.  And that realization has helped me get to a place where the perspective is a bit clearer.

On that note, I want to share with you a goal I've made for myself over the next year: I am going to read the standard works all the way through.  So that means I'll be reading the Old Testament, New Testament, the Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants and the Pearl of Great Price.  Originally my plan was just to read the Old Testament because, I'll be honest, I've never read it all the way through.  I've studied certain books of it, but never the whole thing.  So I planned it all out and I made a schedule!

There are 1,581 chapters total, so that averages 4.3 chapters a day over the course of a year.  I assigned myself 4 chapters a day with 5 chapters every 3 days, but when I wrote it all out I had 5 days left over (next year has a leap day)- perfect for days when I'm too sick/tired/busy/crazy to read.  We'll see how it all works out.

I just have felt so much relief and peace with my little epiphany.  Not that this is an occasion to slack off- far from it- but I finally feel like it's okay if my priorities are different than everyone else's, and that is a great thing.

Friday, August 19, 2011

The "Proper" Way to Cut a Melon

Sorry I've been away for a while! Summertime has been quite busy for us. 

I have been working on a few sewing projects that I hope to have up soon, including the elusive diaper cover tutorial. For now, I wanted to share with you a great way to get the most out of your melons, as they are certainly in the peak of their season. 

Back when Stephen and I first got married, I bought lots of oranges and cut them up as a snack.  He looked at my cutting job and said, "What did you do to those?"  Another time I was helping my sister-in-law prepare food for a family dinner by cutting up a melon.  She glanced over at my work and said, "Here, let me help you with that."

Apparently I used to cut my produce in a not-so-mainstream way.  Or my in-laws are food snobs.  Either way, I want to show you the best way to cut a melon so you get the most out of it with the least amount of work (don't worry, my in-laws are great people and have shown me the light- at least when it comes to food prep).

Step 1 Cut off the ends of your melon (where the stem was) making sure you cut through part of the flesh (ew, that's a weird word) and not just the rind.
Step 2 Set the melon on its end. It will now balance quite well, making it easy to cut.

Step 3 Cut the rest of the rind off, cutting into the flesh (about 1/4-1/2" away from the rind- and it's still a weird word) following the curve of the rind. Cut all the "white" off.

Step 4 Admire your work. Isn't it pretty?  Now cut it vertically in half straight through the middle.

Step 5 Lay each half on their sides.  From here on out, you can cut it into whatever shapes you want, but I like cubes.  Cut horizontally every 1" to 1 1/2" so the pieces will be mostly even.

Step 6 Cut long-ways keeping the same spacing you used going horizontally.  See where this is going?

Step 7 Now cut the other direction, again using the same spacing, and voila! Beautiful fruity cubes!

I love cutting my large fruit this way.  I put my melon in a big tupperware container and it's ready to go for any of our meals, plus I don't have to worry about the kids eating the rinds.  However, I've always wondered what pickled melon rind tastes like (Laura Ingalls Wilder, anyone?).  Anyway, good luck!

P.S. My way of cutting oranges is better than Stephen's. Just kidding. To each their own.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Fumigation Woes and... Homemade Granola!

Hi everyone, sorry for the absence. Things have been crazy around here to say the least. 

Last September, I noticed a bug with wings on Sophie's play mat.  I picked up the mat to shake off the bug outside and underneath were about 30 more!  I took it outside, got my vacuum and got rid of them.  I started looking around my living room and noticed four or five more sitting on our couch!  Yuck.  Turned out they were termites and were starting to swarm and, fortunately, that was the worst it got.

Our apartment manager promised a fumigation in the next year before they began to swarm again, so here we are. Last week we got fumigated and UGH- what an annoying process. We had to put anything digestible into plastic bags which included medicine, toothpaste, spices, everything in our fridge, freezer and more.  Oh, and did I mention we couldn't be in our house for 2 days? I know that goes with the territory, but UGH. 

Our landlord has been very generous, actually, and put up everyone in our building in a local hotel, but we opted to take a prorated discount to our rent and spend a few days with Stephen's family.  We knew we would save more money that way by avoiding eating out, plus I wanted to keep Sophie away from the house for an extra day.  I wasn't sure if/how her little body would react to the trace amounts (we're talking 20 parts per million, not much at all) that are allowed for re-entrance into the building.  I also needed the extra day to get the house back together so I wouldn't have to worry about the kids getting into everything.  Stephen's parents are so generous.

So, that's what we've been up to.  Which means my meal planning thing has gone to pot.  But, here we are at the beginning of another month, so I can really implement the goals I had last month of limiting going out to eat and preparing freezer items for meals.  The next two months will be a challenge because we are going to two family reunions and will be traveling, but planning ahead will make all the difference, I think.

Today I need to prepare a lot of things for my kitchen.  I need to:
  • Toast Granola for breakfasts and snacks
  • Make Granola Bars
  • Cook, package, and freeze beans
  • Bake bread
That sounds like a lot, but the beans take little to no effort and the other items come pretty easily to me now that I make them so regularly.  Can I just say that not having to purchase cold cereal has saved us a TON of money?!  It requires a little more effort on my part, but it's been totally worth it.  Cold cereal has moved from our "necessity" list onto our "special-treat-when-it's-an-amazing-price" list. 

We love our granola.  We eat it with milk, yogurt, or alone as a snack.  I found a wonderful recipe from Kitchen Stewardship that I love.  Please go to her site and browse her great recipes (on a side note, I have a different recipe for granola bars that I like better.  I'll share that with you later!).  This granola is sweet, nutty and has a nice coconut flavor.  Delicious.

Coconut Granola

In a large mixing bowl, combine:

3 cups rolled oats (old fashioned or quick oats will work fine, doesn't matter)
1/2 cup sunflower seeds (these are very inexpensive)
1/2 cup other nut (whatever is on sale, or more sunflower seeds)
1/2 cup shredded coconut

Variations to add at this point:

1/4 cup ground flax seed
1/4 cup wheat flour or germ (if you struggle to get your family to eat grains)
1 cup dried fruit (raisins, craisins, dried berries, chopped dried mango, etc)
1/4 cup sesame seeds
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

In a medium saucepan (or in the microwave for 10 seconds at a time between stirring), melt together:

1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup honey (I store mine in the fridge because it's old and I don't want it to spoil, so it's pretty hard and needs to be melted. Stephen's grandmother gave us a a couple gallons of honey a while back, haha)

When melted together (and NOT boiling) remove from heat then add:

1/6 cup water
1 teaspoon vanilla

Pour over dry ingredients and mix together.  There are two options to toast it from here:

Option A

Spread granola in a shallow baking pan and bake at 250 degrees.  Stir after 30 minutes, bake another 5 or so (to get the oven back up to temperature) then turn off the oven, leaving the door closed, and leave overnight.  For this method, the layer of granola must be very thin so it will crisp, so I recommend using something like a jelly roll pan.

Option B

Put the granola in a 9x13 baking pan and bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes, then stir.  Put back in the oven.  Every 5 minutes stir the granola. Scrape the bottom of the pan and move it all around so it doesn't burn.  Continue stirring every 5 minutes until granola is golden and crispy.  It will change from the milky oatmeal color to a rich, toasted, golden brown color.  If in doubt, taste it to see how crunchy it is, but be careful as it is easy to let it go an extra cycle and begin to taste a little burned.  This process will take approximately 30-35 minutes.


I use option B most often, as I usually make granola bars or get my bread dough going at the same time.  It all depends on how you want to use your time and how soon you need your granola! I'm been known to procrastinate a bit and bake it the morning I need it.

Happy baking!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Food will make us or break us.

I know I haven't been posting about my challenge to follow a weekly menu, but here's why: it's been working.  Last month I came in $9.40 under budget!  How great is that?!

I know that we still need to work on a few things to help our budget, so I have some new goals for the coming month (wait, we're midway through, aren't we? darn).

Genuinely limit the frequency we go out to eat.  Once a week is NOT okay.

Going out to eat is a budget buster.  It will kill us (in more ways than one, ha).  Though I did great with the groceries, we were $60 over our eating out budget.  SIXTY. DOLLARS.  Not okay.

The one exception I will make for this rule is for our anniversary next month.  We are going to Houston's restaurant and then to see Les Miserables at the Ahmanson Theater in downtown L.A.  I love Houston's.  Having worked there, I know that they have great quality food and I am okay with splurging a little. Ok, it will be a pretty big splurge, but worth it in my eyes.

My next goal is related to my first goal:

Make easy-fix homemade freezer meals for busy or "do I really have to cook today?" days.

With some planning this shouldn't be too difficult.  Last month I made a big batch of pinto beans and froze the portions.  They were easy to defrost (I stored them in quart-sized freezer bags) and were versatile.  We used them in taco salad, fajitas and bean burritos.  I'm sure I could have thought of other uses but these were simple and (not including the fajitas) didn't take a lot of effort.  I just cooked the beans throughout the day in my crockpot.  Easy.

I need other things like this.  I had a friend who did freezer meatballs, but I am too cheap to buy the ground beef to do this and we don't eat them often enough to make it worth it for me.  Something delicious, but also frugal. Ideas?

The last month has really been an eye opener for me.  Through our (mostly) excellent planning we were able to have a $700 surplus and pay off our debt!

We're debt free!

Phew!  What a relief!  We've paid off over $20,000 in debt over the last two years.  Please keep in mind that we are not wealthy, at least by American standards.  We have one income and live in a relatively expensive part of the country.

The key to it for us was to make paying off our debt a priority.  We set a goal to have our debt paid off by our fifth anniversary (3 weeks from now).  It wasn't an arbitrary date.  We made a budget, determined what our monthly surplus was and started making cuts and asking ourselves a lot of questions.  Did we really "need" all the things we were spending my money on?

All our major cuts to the budget were on food. In the same month last year I spent $527.98 on food.  This year I spent $244.75.  That's a $283.23 difference! Holy cow!  I had to exhibit a lot of self control, especially at places like Costco where many staples (milk, butter and eggs) are cheaper.  We are trying to keep the ball rolling as we now save for a house.

The irony of spending less money is that we've actually been eating better.  I love making things from scratch- just having that knowledge makes me feel empowered and knowing exactly what we're eating feels great.  I've never felt so satisfied with the meals I prepare and the pride I have in our food.

I know I can improve, though. I am trying to slowly phase out processed foods by eliminating or replacing them with ones I make from scratch.  Recently I began making yogurt, granola and granola bars.  They are all very tasty and Stephen now requests granola for breakfast.

So please, I beg of you, what meals do you find freeze well and are good for those times when you can't (or don't want to) cook?

Monday, June 6, 2011

Aaron & Kempo

We had the pleasure of going to my cousins wedding last month and I offered to do their flowers as our gift to them.  My cousin Aaron married Kempo, an awesome girl with an individual, unique sense of style, so I had a lot of fun!

 Kempo is Korean and Mexican so she integrated both parts of her heritage into the wedding.  First big rule with Korean weddings: no white.  Initially she was going with just a blue and red theme, but we added the yellow as an accent color which went perfectly with what she was going for.  She wanted bright, bright, bright. She wore a white dress for the ceremony and a traditional Korean dress for the reception.

 The bride's bouquet- she added tiny bees to it.  I used gerbera daisies, carnations, goldenrod, waxflower, lemon leaf, hypericum berry and billy balls.

The bridesmaid's bouquets.  I used the same flowers as the bride but in a smaller arrangement.

I wrapped the handles of the bouquets in two ribbons. This is the bride's handle.

 I used tall, skinny vases with a few gerberas, waxflower and lemon leaf for the centerpieces.  The vases were about 2 1/2 feet tall.

Here's my cousin, the groom!

Sorry this is sideways, but this is an example of the boutonnieres I made.  I used mini carnations, billy balls, hypericum berry, waxflower and leatherleaf.  I wanted something kinda funky for Kempo and I think this hit the nail on the head.

Aunt Dian, the mother of the groom!  She's wearing a red carnation corsage.

The ADORABLE wedding cake topper (again, sorry it's sideways).

Best part of the day: a piƱata!

Even the bride took a swing!

  We had such a good time!

It was such a great day, and they are such a cute couple.  The ceremony was beautiful and fun (she pledged to protect him from zombies) and the reception was wonderful.  What a perfect day.  We wish you guys the best in your new life together!