Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Wedding Planning Wednesday - Recap

I've been doing Wedding Planning Wednesdays for a few months now and have shared a ton of ideas. This week I wanted to do a bit of a recap for those who are new readers or for those who have missed a post here and there!

Our wedding will take place on Saturday, May 12th, 2012. We actually decided to take pink out of our colors and stick with lace, cream, and burlap colors.

I plan to use a big bunch of baby's breath for the bridesmaids bouquets and for a lot of the floral decor. And I'll be making the bouquets myself!

We chose a venue, the Oak Canyon Nature Center in Anaheim Hills. It's a beautiful nature center filled with 200 year old oak trees, creeks, and beautiful bridges. The ceremony site is on the left and the reception site is on the right.

We're giving antique skeleton keys as wedding favors. I also plan to incorporate them into Mando's boutonniere and my bouquet.

For lighting, we want string (or cafe) lights covering the reception area. We may also incorporate lights on trees or hanging from trees.

I asked for your ideas and suggestions for the big exit, but in the end we decided not to do anything. We got some amazing suggestions such as releasing butterflies and ribbon wands, but we realized it'll be late at night and no one will see any of that anyway ;)

We are really into having a food truck cater our wedding since there is no kitchen at the venue and open flames aren't allowed. (We did go tasting last night. The food was amazing, but we still haven't found the perfect truck!)

And that's where we left off! Now that so many of the basic ideas and concepts are done, we're finally ready to book some more vendors! September is shaping up to be a busy month! XOXO

Monday, August 29, 2011

Exciting Announcement! Mama Matryoshka will be at The Threadery!

With all of the craziness of birthday parties, moving, and vacations, Mama Matryoshka has been on vacation mode for most of the summer. I didn't mean for it to happen, but it did and I've missed it! I just love being creative and making pretty little things, and I always get inspired when the holidays roll around. This fall I really want to focus on trying new projects. One of my goals was to try and sell at a handmade/craft market and I'm happy to announce that on October 22nd, I will be! I've been accepted to sell at a booth at The Threadery! It's a new handmade craft market created by two lovely ladies (you can learn more about it here) in Orange County. I'm really nervous because this is my first time doing anything like this and I know it's going to be A LOT of work! I need to build a booth and backdrop completely from scratch and make a ton of inventory of both old and new items to sell! But mostly I'm super excited to put my product out there and interact with my customers face to face. I'll also get to hang out with Alyson of Eisley Rae Clothing and Heather of Happy Bee Boutique so I know we'll have tons of fun! If you're in the Orange County area make sure to stop by and say hi! I'd love to see you!

When: October 22nd, 9:00AM- 4:00PM
Where: 505 W. Lambert Rd. Brea, Ca 92821 North Orange County

I'll be sure to blog more details soon and keep you updated on all of the new products I'm making specifically for this event. I also have a giveaway coming very soon to say thank you for supporting my little Etsy shop for the past 5 months! Stay tuned! XOXO

Friday, August 26, 2011

Friday Favorites: Can I have s'more?

To me, the end of August also means the end of summer. Soon the days will be shorter and the nights cooler. Maybe because I grew up in Newport Beach, but the end of summer always makes me think of bonfires at the beach. We would grab a fire pit and roast marshmallows as the sun set surrounded by all of our friends and family. And we always made s'mores which are pretty much my favorite sweets on the planet. There's something perfect about the combination of chocolate, graham cracker, and toasted marshmallow... it's sweet, crunchy, and gooey all in one bite. When we took Cayden to the beach a few weeks ago we planned to have a bonfire that night, but all of the fire pits were taken by the time we got there. So I was left with all the necessary s'more ingredients and decided to try this recipe from Fahrenheit 350.  These s'mores cookies are amazing! You take a chocolate chip cookie, add marshmallow, and bake them right on top of a graham cracker. It just tastes like summer! There are so many creative s'mores treats around lately, I wanted to dedicated Friday Favorites to the yummiest summer dessert as we say goodbye to another season!

 I love the idea of s'mores pops! Pre-roasted marshmallow, dipped in melted chocolate, and coated in graham cracker crumbs already on a stick and ready to devour? Perfect!

Okay, how creative and original is a s'mores cake? This cake found on The Sweetest Occasion looks amazing! Layers of chocolate and graham cracker and topped with a toasted marshmallow buttercream... Heaven!

 You knew there would be a cupcake somewhere in this post right? I have to try these chocolate s'mores cupcakes from Glorious Treats. You just can't go wrong with a moist chocolate cupcake topped with marshmallow frosting and a piece of baked graham cracker! YUM!

These s'mores bars are about as close to the real thing as you can get! I love how she mixed both chocolate chips and mini Hershey bars for double the chocolate-y goodness. Now get in my mouth!

Want to skip the whole open flame and stick hassle? These homemade s'mores candy bars might be the perfect solution, especially if you have young children. Just layer the chocolate, marshmallow fluff, and graham cracker pieces and let set and you are good to go!

Okay, I can't get over these s'mores in a jars from How Sweet It Is. I love anything in a jar (it's true). She layers a graham cracker crust with double chocolate chip cake, and then tops it off with big puffy marshmallows. AMAZING. How cute would these be as desserts or favors at a camping themed birthday party?

Obviously these are all wonderful ideas, and I think I need to make all of them by the end of the month. What about you? Are you ready for summer to end? I, personally, can't wait for fall... sweaters, pumpkin spice, and the holiday season! It's going to be amazing! XOXO

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Wedding Planning Wednesday: Food Trucks

I'm back with a new Wedding Planning Wednesday post! It's been awhile, but rest assured that I missed you guys! Today I want to talk about one of the most important parts of any wedding... the FOOD! Mando and I went back and forth on whether we wanted to serve dinner or just desserts, but in the end we both agreed that serving a meal is a must for our families. I still wanted to keep a casual atmosphere, so a formal sit down dinner was definitely out, but I didn't want to compromise the quality of the food. We were also faced with another problem... Our venue is outdoors and has no kitchen so our options for serving food are very limited. I really wanted something fun and different from most weddings, yet still in our budget.

I'm not sure if you've noticed, but food trucks are all the rage right now. In fact, we are currently hooked on the Food Network show The Great Food Truck Race. Just in Orange County alone, there are TONS of food truck festivals going on almost every weekend. When I first came up with the idea, we thought, why not? It's in our price range, all the food will be fresh and hot, and it's the perfect solution for our outdoor venue. I love how quirky they are and you can find almost ANY type of cuisine being served. And don't be fooled by the truck... these are gourmet meals! We still haven't chosen a specific truck, but we're thinking of either a Mexican theme or the classic burgers and fries. Either way, I know it will be delicious! Luckily, every Tuesday there is a hugely popular gathering of food trucks right by our house so we plan to go next week and try to get some ideas and hopefully find the perfect truck!

What do you guys think? Tacky or delicious? I'd love to hear your opinions! XOXO

Monday, August 22, 2011

The BEST chocolate chip cookie recipe.

I'm going to tell you a secret, something I don't normally tell people: I used to be cursed when it came to chocolate chip cookies. No, seriously... I would try twenty different recipes of the basic chocolate chip cookie and they would NEVER turn out right. Sometimes they would melt into a gooey puddle and sometimes they would harden into a rock. I could never understand why and it eventually became a running joke in the family. I had no problems baking any other type of cookie, but the chocolate chip cookie hated me. It got to the point where I just stopped trying to make them altogether. Then one day, I decided to blog 3 fun Valentines Day treats and this was the first one. The first step was to bake chocolate chip cookies so I decided to give it a try and OH MY GOD. They were a-m-a-z-i-n-g! Soft, chewy, melt in your mouth, fluffy deliciousness (and no I'm not exaggerating)! Ever since that fateful day, I've made these cookies a dozen times and they've always turned out perfectly. I decided to share the BEST chocolate chip cookie recipe with you guys, in hopes that someone who has also been cursed can break through and enjoy the warm chocolate-y gooeyness that are these cookies. So without further ado...

The BEST chocolate chip cookie recipe:

 You will need:
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter (1 1/2 sticks), melted
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 large egg and 1 large egg yolk at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
First, pre-heat your oven to 325 degrees. Then you're going to mix the flour, baking soda and salt with a wire whisk and set aside.

In a medium bowl, cream together the melted butter, brown sugar and white sugar until well blended. Then beat in the vanilla, egg, and egg yolk until light and creamy.

Mix in the sifted ingredients until just blended. Stir in the chocolate chips by hand using a wooden spoon. Scoop out cookie dough and roll into small 1-inch balls (a little smaller than the size of a walnut) onto the prepared cookie sheets.

Bake for 8-10 minutes in the preheated oven, or until the edges are lightly toasted. Cool on baking sheets for a few minutes before transferring to wire racks to cool completely. (DO NOT skip this step! It's what keeps them soft and chewy!)

Now run, don't walk, to your kitchen and whip some of these babies up! You can thank me later! XOXO

Friday, August 19, 2011

Friday Favorites: Chevron Stripes

It's hard to go anywhere these days without seeing chevron stripes. This trend has inspired the fashion and design world in a very big way and I love how the simple pattern can make such a bold statement. I've seen these stripes painted on fingernails and walls and everything in between! Here are a few of my favorite picks!

I love this fabric storage bin from Anthropologie! The soft gray color makes the pattern a little more subtle and it's big enough to hide toys or magazines to de-clutter your space!

I've been meaning to order business cards for Mama Matryoshka, and I absolutely adore these! The only problem is that I can't decide if I like them better in yellow or turquoise!

Oh how I love these bags. They are bright and big and perfect to use as a purse/diaper bag combo. I love the camel colored straps too!

This sweet fold-over clutch from Etsy is the perfect accessory! There are (rare) times when I go somewhere without Cayden and I just need my phone, wallet, and keys. I love how bright and easy it is!

How pretty is this chair? I've been fantasizing about re-decorating my family room once we buy a house and this chair is a must! It's definitely a conversation piece, but the light gray color keeps it from being too loud or gaudy. Love!

*All image sources can be found on my Pinterest board here.

I hope you all have a safe and fun weekend! I'll be heading home from our trip, but I'll be back Monday with a new post! XOXO

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Family day at the Orange County Fair.

Going to the Orange County Fair is a summer tradition for me. I've been going every year since I was a little girl and I love it more and more each time. The food is fried, the rides are dangerous, and the carnies are missing teeth... what could be a better Summer tradition? We first took Cayden when he was only 3 weeks old and with a possible out-of-state move in our future, I knew I had to take him again this year. We had so much fun walking around and eating! I have an obsession with fair food, and photographing fair food. I can't get enough of those colorful booths! We took the boys to the petting zoo where Cayden almost got trampled by a llama (true story...) and we walked around the arts and crafts expo. The only disappointment was that every ride in the kiddie land had a 36" height requirement (which we realized after buying the tickets) so the boys couldn't go on any. Lame! But thankfully we brushed it off and had a great time!

Another thing checked off our Summer to-do list! Can you believe Fall is almost here? I can't wait!! XOXO

Monday, August 15, 2011

Soft & Chewy Peanut Butter Cookies

 We are currently on our Oregon road trip, but I've scheduled some posts for you throughout the week. Enjoy!

It's late at night... the baby is asleep. Dinner was hours ago, and Mando and I have the munchies! 90% of the time I'm making these peanut butter cookies... Super easy to make and super delicious to eat, these cookies are the perfect late night snack! Try them tonight and you won't be disappointed!

Soft & Chewy Peanut Butter Cookies


1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened
1/2 cup smooth peanut butter
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
1 egg
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt

First, preheat oven to 375°. Set out your egg and butter until they feel room temperature.

Cream the butter, peanut butter and sugars until light. Add the egg and mix until fluffy.

In a separate mixing bowl add the flour, baking powder, soda and salt and whisk together. Slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients mixing well after each addition.

Drop cookie dough by teaspoonfuls onto lightly greased baking sheets. Dip a fork into flour and gently press into the cookies making a criss-cross pattern. Bake for 10-12 until golden brown. Cool for about 5 minutes and then transfer to a wire rack (this step is very important; it's what makes your cookies soft and chewy!)

So yummy! If you want to mix it up a bit, try adding 1 cup of semi-sweet chocolate chips as your last step (you can skip the criss-cross step, too) for warm peanut butter chocolate chip cookies. They are to die for when you have a chocolate craving! Enjoy! XOXO

Friday, August 12, 2011

Oregon Itinerary, yay!

I thought it'd be fun for me to show you guys where/what exactly we'll be doing on our road trip up the coast so I put together a little Oregon Itinerary! We have 4 stops between Orange County and Portland and I seriously can't decide which one I'm most excited for. Here's the breakdown of our trip:
  1. Depart Orange County on Sunday at about 7am. Drive 5-6 hours until we get to...
  2. Big Sur. We'll stop and stretch our legs and have a long lunch at Nepenthe, a restaurant on the cliffs overlooking the ocean. One of my Twitter friends told me about this place and the reviews on Yelp are fantastic! I can't wait to see that view! We'll let Cayden explore for awhile and then back on the road for another 2ish hours until...
  3. San Francisco. We'll probably get there around 4 or 5 which gives us plenty of time to check into our hotel room and hit China Town for dinner. We will probably walk around and explore for awhile and in the morning go to downtown to see Fisher Men's Wharf and Alcatraz. We'll leave San Fran around 4 and drive until we get to...
  4. Ferndale, which is a small town in Humboldt County loaded with antique shops and sweet Victorian houses. We'll shop, have dinner, explore the town and then spend the night in the cutest little hotel. The next morning we'll be up bright and early to explore the redwoods and the avenue of the giants. There's hiking trails, campgrounds, and spectacular views of the redwoods. The forest goes on for like a 30 mile stretch so we'll spend the morning driving around and seeing everything there is to see. Around noon we'll go for the longest driving stretch, and the one I'm most nervous about with Cayden. It's about 7 hours until we reach...
  5. Eugene. We'll stop here to have a long dinner and rest, and let Cayden out of the car for a few hours. We don't have any definite plans other than explore the town and possibly meet up with Lindsey, who just moved there! From there it's a 2 hour drive until we reach...
  6. Portland, our destination! We'll probably just check into our hotel for the night, because the next 3 days will be spent at the Oregon Coast Aquarium, Japanese Gardens, Mount Hood, Multnomah Falls, and the Rose Gardens.  Of course we'll also explore the restaurants, antique shops, and the houses around town to see if it's a good fit for us to move there next year! Eeeeek!
Our trip home isn't so planned out, but we'll leave Friday evening and try to see Crater Lake, Gilroy (the garlic capital, can you say heaven on earth?!), and Monterey Bay on the way back. I'm really bummed out that the Treesort (which is like a treehouse hotel!!!) is completely booked. Who knew they booked a year in advance? Even though we won't be able to see it this time, I am definitely planning another trip there soon!

So that's our trip! I'm dying of excitement, and can't believe it's only 3 days away! I am really nervous about Cayden because he's not the best traveler, but I got some brand new car toys for him to play with, his favorite blankie and stuffed animal, and tons of books and snacks for him. We also tried to plan plenty of stops for him to run around and stretch and eat. If you have any tips for traveling with toddlers I'd love to hear them!

I've scheduled some posts for next week while I'm gone so make sure to come check them out! Have a fantastic weekend everyone! XOXO

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Cayden's Mickey Mouse birthday party.

Cayden is obsessed with Mickey Mouse so I really wanted his first birthday to be something that makes him happy. I'm not a huge fan of licensed character parties, so I stuck with a red, yellow, and black color theme and incorporated a ton of DIY details. Although the day was hot and hectic, I'm so glad that I was able to do this for him. We all had so much fun and it was worth all the months of planning, and sweat and tears that went into it!

Mando and I were up until 3am the night before the party baking 2 dozen cupcakes, brownies, lemon bars, and rice crispy treats. We were back up at 7am the next morning and immediately started packing everything up to get to my mom's where the party was taking place. We picked up the cake and the balloons on our way and then started cooking the food and decorating before the party started at 1. Like most hostesses, I was running around like crazy making sure everything was done and the guests were comfortable, and I didn't get nearly as many pictures as I wanted (including any of the food table, Cayden in the pool, his high chair banner, or the kids wearing the DIY Mickey ears) but I did the best I could with the time I had! There were a few hiccups like the wind, popping balloons, and flies trying to get to the food, but we made it work and in the end all 40 guests said they had a good time!

My favorite part of the day was Cayden eating his smash cake. He looked so serious, but ended up making a huge mess and eating almost the entire thing! It was so funny! The kids all had SO much fun playing in the pool with the big rafts, beach balls, and pool noodles. The food we served was yummy and everyone raved over the dessert table. Luckily, I had time to down some strawberry margaritas and was able to finally relax and enjoy my time with the birthday boy!

Now onto the pictures!

I sent these invitations out sooooo late, but at least I had the excuse that they were handmade! I designed and made all of them and thought they turned out cute! Special thanks to my sister for helping me create the party details on the back!

 "You've got ears, say cheers!" DIY Mickey and Minnie ears for the kids to wear. I made these using black headbands and hot gluing circles and bows that I cut with my Silhouette. Super cute, easy, and inexpensive! The kids loved them.

 Along with soda, water, and beer, we served homemade lemonade and sun tea. I found these beverage dispensers at Walmart for $10! I love how they act as a display piece with the lemons on the bottom.

One of my favorite things at the party was the strawberry margaritas we made using my mom's ice cream machine! They were cold and refreshing and they paired perfectly with the carne asada tacos. I bought the red and white striped paper straws at my favorite party planning site, Shop Sweet Lulu!

This banner frustrated me to no end! Every time I tried to tie it up the wind knocked it down. Finally I had to duct tape it to the wall, which wasn't the prettiest look, but it worked! This was the best picture we got (thanks, sister!), but as you can see the wind was pretty brutal. I also had really cute Mickey Mouse balloons on both sides, but half of them popped before the party even started! Sometimes you just have to laugh it off! :)

My amazing sister whipped up these fun tissue paper pom-poms hanging above the dessert table about 5 minutes before the party started and they ended up being one of my favorite decorations! We had planned to do them together, but just didn't have time so I'm so glad she took care of it for me. They turned out beautiful and everyone loved them!

The dessert table was A LOT of work, but I'm so happy with how it turned out! We baked everything in my kitchen (with the exception of the cake) and I made the 'sweets' banner, Mickey cupcake wrappers, pinwheel cupcake toppers, the cake and smash cake topper myself. (All available to buy in my Etsy shop!) The ice cream bar was a huge hit, and the kids loved picking their own toppings! The plates, napkins, and the ice cream cups were also from Shop Sweet Lulu and were adorable! I'm so bummed I didn't get a good picture of them!

I loved the smash cake and that picture of Cayden is my favorite of the entire day! The cake topper was custom made my me, and you can see he's wearing a pair of my DIY Mickey ears! :)

 My boy annihilated that cake! He was so messy afterwards I didn't even bother trying to wipe him down, I just turned the hose on him!

I can't believe my sweet boy is finally one. Since the party, it's like he exploded into toddlerhood and is now a walking, talking, tantruming little man! ;) I'm proud of myself for holding it together the entire day... I didn't cry until we got home and I was carrying my sleeping 1 year old from the car to bed. I spent a lot of time remembering where we were a year ago, and reflecting on those sweet few first days of his life spent in the hospital. It was so cozy and quiet and magical.  I can't believe a year has already gone by!

If you're planning a big party, my suggestion is to start early! Everyone thought I was crazy for planning 6 months in advance, but I'm so glad I did. It gave me plenty of time to really find out what I wanted to do, and allowed me to start buying and making everything over a long period of time instead of all at once. I'm so thankful to Mando, my mom, my sister, and my best friend for stepping in and helping me without me ever having to ask. I literally couldn't have done it without their help! In the end, everything might not turn out how you envisioned it, but you have to make the best of it and remember your there to celebrate and enjoy the time with your loved ones!

I think next year we'll have a smaller, family party... we (along with our bank account) are still trying to recover from this one... I think Mando might be traumatized!