New England

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In just a few weeks, I will be reaching my fourth year of living in Los Angeles. James will be reaching his seventh. Because we both happen to be from New England, a lot of people are often surprised to learn that we actually met here in LA. We obviously did not exclusively date New Englanders, but it has been convenient. We have been able to visit James’ home town of Stamford, CT while visiting my family in Providence, RI (his family has now moved to Florida). Southern California is now our home, but I will always have a strong emotional attachment to New England, and I will always cherish our visits.

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This past weekend while taking care of some wedding planning details, we took the opportunity to explore downtown Providence a bit. Here I am outside City Hall and the Providence Biltmore Hotel.

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One of my favorite things about growing up in a tiny state was the benefit of seeing the State Capitol building whenever I wanted, even though I did not live in Providence for most of my life.

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This photo was actually from the first time that I took James to Rhode Island so that he could meet my family. He was very excited for me to show him everything, such as Slater Mill in Pawtucket. It happens to be the first water powered cotton spinning mill in North America. Here James is standing by the Blackstone River which powers the mill.

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The mill showcases the colonial architecture that is typical all over New England.

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Here we are at the Blackstone River again, but several miles away from the mill. This park is one of many places to enjoy the greenery in warmer months, as well as the beautiful foliage in autumn.

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Our favorite place in New England is definitely the campus of my alma mater, Brown University. I lived here for four years, and spent so much time walking through these hallowed halls. Being able to share these walks with James now is such a delight.

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With this beautiful Main Green, it’s no wonder students at the university are always happy.

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Stamford, CT is a relatively small city that feels like something between Providence and so many of the rural towns of the region. Much of downtown Stamford has been taken up by large shopping developments and office complexes in the later 20th century, but a few blocks from its earlier days still remain.

img-20130705-00880aHere James stands in front of the Old Town Hall wearing his Hartford Whalers t-shirt, paying homage to a team that existed in his home state until 1997.

img-20130705-00921Perhaps the biggest highlight of visiting James’ hometown for the first time was Cove Island Park. Pictured here is a pipeline crossing left over from the large mill complex on the island that burned down in the early 20th century. This is a quiet area of the beach that is covered up at high tide. James was very excited to show me the park as he recounted stories from his youth.

There are still many more places in all of New England that we want to visit together. We’re both very glad to have these opportunities to visit our home states and share our favorite places with each other.

 

 

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Handmade Wedding Gown Sash

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We are currently on an airplane (I love in flight wi-fi) on our way to Rhode Island. This week-end we are taking care of  some wedding planning details, one of which will be getting my first set of alterations done for my wedding gown. I’ve had to do some prep work leading up to this weekend aside from the trying to get in better shape situation most brides put themselves in. The first thing I had to make sure to do was find my wedding shoes so that the tailor can alter the hem. This mostly involved a lot of online shopping. Eventually I found this pair in nude color that I felt worked well with my dress, and are comfortable enough to wear the whole day.

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The other component was making a sash for my dress. This is not a necessary piece, but after trying on some ribbons around my waist when I was dress shopping, I decided I wanted to make my own. I loved the idea of having a piece of my wedding ensemble be something that I made with my own hands, so I took the challenge and am very pleased with the results.

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Using a variety of fabrics in different shades of blush and champagne, I constructed three of these little flowers.

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I started off by tracing different size circles onto the fabrics with a pencil and three different sized glasses.

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Once I had all of my circles traced, I carefully cut out the circles with fabric scissors.

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This took the longest amount of time since I cut many more circles than I would need, to have a lot of options for those that would make it into the final product.

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Then, using an unscented wax candle, I carefully singed the edges of the fabric.

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The singeing of the fabric has two purposes: 1. it seals the edges so that the fabric won’t fray, 2. it makes the fabric curl in to give the illusion of a flower petal.

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I used a blush colored lace fabric to give the flowers a bit more delicate detail. Using nail scissors, I cut out along the edges of the shapes in the lace to make the flowers have a more textured look.

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Once I had all of my pieces, I sorted out just those pieces I wanted to use. A few pieces had a slightly burned edge due to the singeing process. Then, I stacked the circles from largest to smallest, insuring that each flower had all four fabrics incorporated.

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Once the main body of the flowers were finished, I stitched in a few pearls in the very center of each.

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I made one larger flower for the center of the sash, and two smaller ones to go on the sides.

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Next I got to working on the ribbon itself. I purchased a light champagne colored ribbon, and a lace ivory colored ribbon with small pearls attached throughout. Using a small needle, I stitched the two ribbons together at various points. I did not want the lace to lay completely flat against the ribbon, so I only secured it at the tops and middle of the lace.

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Once the ribbon was ready, I secured the three flowers with needle and ivory thread so that they would be positioned just slightly to the right of my middle.

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It took many hours to complete this, but I couldn’t be happier with the final result. I cannot wait to see what it will look like on my wedding gown.


Favorite LA Spots: Barnsdall Park

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As part of a series, I am creating posts about our favorite (and free) places in Los Angeles. I started the series with the Griffith Observatory, and am following up with Barnsdall Park. Located atop a small hill, Barnsdall is a lovely park in Hollywood, that provides a relaxing escape from the hustle and bustle of the city. This park holds a special meaning to us, as it was where we had our third date together. On that beautiful late summer day we also shared our first picnic together, and we’ve been big fans of picnic dates ever since.

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The main attraction of the park is the Hollyhock House, which sits atop the hill. The house, designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, features a unique pattern inspired by the hollyhock flower which adorns the entire exterior.

img_0895cI highly recommend a tour of the inside of the house, where visitors can see more of the brilliant design elements Frank Lloyd Wright incorporated into this structure.

img_0894cThe structure in the photograph above was built as an additional residence of Barnsdall Park, just a short walk away from the Hollyhock House itself. Unfortunately, some parts of the property have been neglected for quite some time, but an extensive restoration is currently underway, and James and I are very excited for the completion of the project.

img_0916aIn the meantime, this little park still offers a wonderful place to relax off Hollywood Blvd.

 


Beach Days

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Living in Southern California has many benefits, the best known one being the beach. Now, it is possible to go to the beach all year round, but James and I prefer to wait for hot summer days when the water doesn’t feel as cold, and the evenings are breezy and warm. It’s still Spring here in Los Angeles, but we anticipate a very warm summer, and many beach days to enjoy it. We love to pack a picnic, take some beach towels for lounging, and most importantly: build sand castles.

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This sand castle was from our last beach trip of the Summer in 2013. After making a large hill of hard packed sand, we used a few buckets, cups, and plastic utensils to shape it into walls and towers

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Typically James comes up with the concept for the castles. He has so much fun focusing on the many details that make up the structures, even though they usually end up being half the size he envisioned.

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Here are two smaller castles that we made on an earlier trip. The tide was coming in quickly, and ate away at the walls before we could finish.

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Here’s one that we made on top of a rock, before we realized that we needed a high foundation of wet sand.

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At least this one wasn’t affected by the tide.

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The water is usually freezing, but we try to be brave and go in for at least a bit every time.

img_6084aNo trip to the beach is complete without climbing on rocks and exploring caves before heading back home. I’m very excited to take out my bathing suit and begin enjoying the beach again this summer.

 

 

 


Apple Pie

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With Spring upon us and Summer just around the corner, it’s finally time for more picnics! To me that means a few things, mainly that it’s time for apple pies. Apple pie is definitely one of those foods that I have fun making, and I’ll sometimes use frozen pie crust so I don’t have to worry so much about tedious measurements that could destroy the whole thing, and instead focus more on making the filling as delicious as possible. Here is what I like to put in my apple pies, but I encourage you to take liberty and come up with other fun ingredients to make the filling.

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INGREDIENTS:

1 box pie crust – thawed (has two pie crust circles)

3 large apples – I use 3 different types of apples to add a variety of tart and sweet

1 cup refined white sugar

1/4 cup brown sugar

2 tablespoons pumpkin pie seasoning

1 tablespoon cinnamon

1 egg – beaten

1 tablespoon raw sugar

INSTRUCTIONS:

Peel apples and cut into cubes. In a large bowl, combine the apple chunks with all of the dry ingredients (except for raw sugar), and let sit for about 15 minutes. Take one of the pie crusts and press into a 9″ round pie tray. Cut off any extra around the rim with a knife. Fill the tray with the apple mixture.

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Take the second pie crust, and cut into long pieces, about one ince in width. Weave the pie crust pieces to create a lattice pattern for the top of the pie.

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Take whatever pie crust slivers remain to seal the edges together, and press around rim with a fork. Lightly coat the pie crust top with the egg and top with raw sugar. Follow the baking instructions on the pie crust box, let cool, and go have a picnic! Or simply enjoy at home.

 

 


Favorite LA Spots: The Griffith Observatory

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When James and I started dating, neither one of us was in an ideal financial situation, so we became pros at finding the best places in Los Angeles that we could go to for free. Thankfully, we are now both doing much better in our careers, but we constantly find ourselves revisiting the free spots because they truly are our favorite places in the city. In the next few weeks I will be sharing photos from each of our favorite free LA spots, starting with the Griffith Observatory.

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The Griffith Observatory is one of our favorite places for a multitude of reasons. For one, it is the site of our second date which occurred just two days after our first date. On our first date, James and I quickly discovered our mutual love for space exploration and science-fiction, as well as sightseeing, so it was all too fitting to go to the observatory together shortly after.

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Watching the sun set from the top of the observatory is a wonderful experience. You won’t find any place with better views of Los Angeles.

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The telescope that calls the observatory home is fascinating, and presents a great learning opportunity to all of its visitors.

img_0895gAside from its wealth of knowledge, the Griffith Observatory is a beautiful sight to visit. Its astounding Deco detailing can only really be appreciated in person.

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Whether you’re admiring it from up close, or from farther away, the Griffith Observatory is truly a treasure to the city of Los Angeles. We are so glad to have this lovely place to visit so close to home.

 

 


Road-trip to Texas

About two years ago we took our first long distance road trip together, with James’ brother and his now fiancée. The four of us headed towards Austin, Texas to watch James and his brother Robert’s short film, ‘Machines of the Working Class,’ play at the SXSW Film Festival.

img_5805It was a relatively short trip, but we embraced the opportunity to do some sightseeing around the state capitol.

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It poured pretty much the entire time we were in Austin, nevertheless we made the trek to the Capitol building and were also able to visit the University of Texas campus.

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We were completely drenched, but we still had plenty of fun. Sadly, that yellow umbrella in the photo above broke shortly after this was taken.

img_5895After the festival in Austin, James proposed we take a detour and visit San Antonio. Thankfully, the weather was much more forgiving, and we absolutely loved walking around this pleasant city. Here we are in front of the Tower of the Americas at HemisFair Park.

 

 

img_5902At the end of the River Walk lies the Bexar County Courthouse.

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My personal favorite part of the trip was going to The Alamo!

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Had it not been for the film festival, and James’ wonderful sense of adventure and curiosity, we would not have had this great opportunity. There were many hours of driving through the desert, but having good company along the way, and the memories of the places we got to visit made it all worth it.