Tuesday, November 26, 2013

2013 Gift Guide

Still planning your Secret Santa or Hanukah Harry party? Here are a few fun gift ideas, just in time for gift-exchange gatherings.
  
Cards Against Humanity
As discussed here, Cards Against Humanity is a seriously fun party game. I feel really old and kind of lame promoting a card game as weekend entertainment, but these days I’m much more interested in attending a dinner party than a crowded club. I’d rather spend quality time with close friends than have awkward conversations with strangers looking to get lucky. That being said, I’m totally up for the awkward conversations initiated by this non-PC but fun for everyone card game.



L.L. Bean Tote
I recently bought myself this particular version of the L.L. Bean classic tote. I’d had my eye on this bag for years, ever since I saw a chic boss with it. It’s great as a gym bag (or yoga studio tote!) or even as a weekend carryall. Plus, the fatigue print goes with everything and is somehow still on trend. I’m betting this bag will be on trend for years to come.
[The Bag, With L.L. Bean's Suggested Contents]

Instant Camera
I love a good old-fashioned camera. In fact lately I’m the only person at parties sporting a digital camera. Everyone is of course using his/her iPhone to snap selfies. And not too long ago I was the only one snapping pics on a disposable camera. My friend Jae recently brought her Fujifilm instax 210 to the office and my colleagues and I had a blast taking funny photos and watching them develop. I gushed about the instant camera to my hubby and I have a feeling we’ll have a new cool camera to break out at upcoming holiday celebrations.



J. Crew Waffle-Stich Infinity Scarf
Infinity scarves are totally in right now. My mother-in-law, who is much more fashion-forward than I, confirmed it recently. And I’m seeing these scarves everywhere. But before they were uber cool my friend Sweet Melissa (as I call her) was sporting a grey infinity scarf from the Gap, and also a burgundy one knitted by her sweet grandmother. Melissa’s scarves always looked so cozy and warm. I finally invested in this one this season.
There’s currently a 25% off promotion on J. Crew; just enter promo code “GETGIFTING.”



The Essential Scratch and Sniff Guide to Becoming a Wine Expert
I inherited a love of wine from my dad. I did not, however, inherit his discerning palette or easy ability to describe a wine’s flavor let alone vintage. My husband is in the same boat. We did a blind tasting with my father and our fam, and Justin guessed “red grapes” for each wine he tried. This book would be a fun addition to our coffee table collection, and could teach us a thing or two about how to actually describe our drink of choice.



The Martha Beck Collection: Essays for Creating Your Right Life, Volume One
“Have you been hoarding Martha’s O, The Oprah Magazine column clippings for years like we have?” Reads the marthabeck.com “Books & Products” page. And my answer is a resounding, “YES, YES I have!” I may be the only person I know who would embrace this gift with wide-open arms, or maybe I’m just the only one not too embarrassed to admit it. Regardless, Beck is my life coach via her columns, books, blogs and daily inspiration emails. I’ll take all the advice I can get :)


Happy gifting!
A


P.S. Don’t forget about these tremendously helpful tools!

Sunday, November 24, 2013

#Friendsgiving

When my friend Lauren decided to host a "Friendsgiving" pre-Thanksgiving potluck last year, I thought she was the most creative, thoughtful person… What a unique, fun and heart-warming idea! I still think Lauren is the most creative, thoughtful person, but I’ve since learned Friendsgiving meals are in fact quite popular. They’re a thing. In fact, according to Instagram, both Lauren Conrad and Emily Schuman participated in Friendsgiving celebrations this past weekend, just like me.

Lauren (my friend, not Conrad) hosted our second annual Friendsgiving celebration for our college crew this past Friday. The food was plentiful and delicious. My contribution was gooey, fudgy brownies and chocolate chip banana bread. The chocolate chip banana bread especially was a hit. Also a hit? Cards Against Humanity. This party game is “as despicable and awkward as you and your friends” according to its site, and it’s true. And silly. And seriously fun.
 
[My BFF/Wedding Officiant Danny AKA Rabbi R]

Happy Friendsgiving,

A

Thursday, November 21, 2013

The Company You Keep

For better or for worse, there is SO MUCH that goes into planning a wedding. Even if you think you’re a “chill yogi bride” and you don’t want anything over the top, preparing for “I do’s”  (in our case, destination I do's) is no small feat. After going through the process I am wiser for it. And I have lots of info and tips, not to mention pics, to share.

First Up: 
The Vendors

Surrounding yourself with consummate professionals is important. Just as important? Surrounding yourself with people who have personalities that jibe with yours. Handpicking the crew who surrounds you on your wedding day is basically as important as picking your bridal party. These are the people you spend precious time with on your big day, and if you choose wisely, they can actually help you relax on a stereotypically stressful day.

And even the vendors who aren’t in your hotel suite on the big day are certainly a big part of your life leading up to the wedding. Justin and I logged many hours emailing and conducting calls with our vendors because we didn’t enlist a wedding planner. But regardless of whether you hire Colin Cowie or choose to go at it on your own, you want people who get you and are working with you, not just for you.

My wedding day hair stylist was completely laid back and cool. She was the epitome of calm yet somehow worked quickly and efficiently to get my hair, as well as the coifs of those in my bridal party, looking great.



My makeup artist was beyond sweet and supportive. She really listened to my (not very well-articulated) vision. We totally bonded and her kind words as well as her amazing work left me feeling giddy.


Our photographer? I like to think that we’re literally BFF. Carlie Statsky works as a team with her husband Gabe, and they’re basically the coolest, kindest, most fun couple to ever exist. And their work? The amazing photos here and in this post speak for themselves! Justin jokes that I’m too obsessed with Carlie and Gabe, but I’m perfectly comfortable being obsessed with our photogs/new best friends and all our wedding day vendors.



I had one easy phone conversation with our florist and I emailed her my Pinterest boards and she nailed our d├ęcor details from the get-go. We met Julie Stevens in-person briefly a few months before the wedding and she showed us some spot-on mockups. I remember saying to Justin, “Julie Stevens just gets me.”



Justin and I had tons of email back and forth with the wedding specialist at The Carneros Inn, Brooke Baglietto. Brooke is the point-person for every single wedding at TCI and she knows her stuff. She kept us on track throughout the months leading up to our wedding, and she answered every single planning question we had. There were about a million. And on the day of our wedding? Justin and I were able to relax and really enjoy ourselves knowing Brooke was at the helm.


Heidi was a last minute addition to our vendor team, recommended by Brooke when I realized upon arriving in Napa that my humongous tulle and silk wedding gown was completely wrinkled. This should’ve come as no surprise, considering I had crammed the dress into a mere carry-on piece of luggage. After treating my gown so poorly I wanted a professional to salvage its shape, not to mention its gorgeous tulle flower details. Heidi was completely booked the week of our wedding, but she kindly allowed me and Justin to come to her home late one night so she could work after hours on my dress.


A special thanks to the wonderful people who just get me (and my hubby) and made all our wedding dreams come true.

A (& J)

[Photos by Carlie Statsky]

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

I’m back!


I didn’t mean to abandon AMB so abruptly, but I got super busy come summer.

What did I do this past summer? As this New Yorker cartoon quite accurately indicates, anyone following me on social media is in the know.

I got married out in Napa and went on an extraordinary honeymoon across South Africa and Mauritius. I also got promoted at work. So now I have a new last name and a new nine to five, and even more to share via this blog.

First thing’s first: the wedding. I could go on and on about the beautiful ceremony and the fabulous reception, not to mention wax poetic about marrying my best friend. But first I want to share a few photos. I apologize if we’re friends on Facebook and you’ve seen me post wedding pictures ad nauseam already. But I’m beyond excited to give my readers a glimpse at my most special day, captured by the amazing photographer Carlie Statsky. [More on wedding vendors to come.] For now, see below for some images from the day.











AS

(Photos by Carlie Statsky)
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