• Natalie
  • posted by Natalie

  • Charlotte hosted August's book, "The Gifts of Imperfection", in her newly renovated dining room in Loomis. The food was amazing! Charlotte prepared Caprese salad, baked brie with garlic, chicken pasta salad, and her famous avocado and cucumber guacamole (I will post the recipe soon!). Dessert was fresh peaches and homemade whipped cream! It was a perfect meal for a hot August evening.

    The group had mixed reviews about the book. While some loved it, others did not care for it. Because it was a self help type book, there were many comparisons between this book and The Happiness Project. While The Happiness Project provided ideas for creating a personal action plan for making your already happy life, happier, The Gifts of Imperfection offers ways to change their lives through adopting the practices of wholehearted living.

  • The Gifts of Imperfection by Brene Brown





  • Natalie
  • posted by Natalie

  • We are often asked for our expertise and ideas on how to shave wedding costs. Wedding favors often comes up in this budget topic and we get asked "What do other couples do for wedding favors? We really don't want to spend a lot of money."

    The tradition of distributing wedding favors as a gesture of appreciation to your guests is a very old one. According to Wikipedia, the first wedding favor was a small trinket box with sugar cubes or delicate confections inside, symbolizing wealth and royalty. As sugar became more affordable, it was replaced with almonds and then sugared almonds, which later evolved into the wedding favor for modern day weddings. Traditionally, five Jordan almonds are given to represent fertility, longevity, wealth, health, and happiness. The bitterness of the almond and the sweetness of the coated candy illustrate the bitter sweetness of a marriage.

    Today, wedding favors usually complement the theme of the wedding. Couples may decide to give edible favors, personalized favors (with the couples names, initials, or wedding date), or non-edible favors. Here are a few budget-friendly favor ideas:
    1. Spend half the money and provide one favor per couple.
    2. Personalized seed packets are a great favor for an outdoor wedding! Give seeds for the flowers used in your wedding bouquet or your favorite cooking herb! They are eco-friendly and meaningful. You can also do seed paper, which is a paper that you add a personal note and the seeds are built into the paper!
    3. Provide a candy or snack bar for your guests. Guests will love the thoughtful snack after a night of dancing and celebrating!
    4. Give each guest a cookie, cake pop, or cupcake that matches your wedding cake. Edible favors are a favorite with guests and there are many options!
    5. Provide a favor that your guests will use while celebrating at your wedding. Flip flops for those out on the dance floor all night, fun sunglasses or umbrellas for an outdoor afternoon wedding, or blankets for a cool beach wedding. Check out dollar stores and wholesale websites to buy in bulk for less money!
    6. Get family and friends involved and make some homemade favors!
    7. Coffee or tea bags are perfect for a fall wedding! Add a note with a personalized saying such as Love is Brewing to customize the gift. If the weather is cool, provide a coffee and tea station for your guests to sip on the warm beverages during the ceremony and/or reception!
    8. Use your centerpieces as your favors! I mentioned this in a previous post on Centerpieces Options . Use individual potted plants as your centerpieces and ask guests to take one home with them! Or provide guests with a customized bag to take some of the flowers from the centerpiece vase! Don't let those pretty flowers go to waste once the reception is over!

  • Susan & Mark did a candy station with all of their favorite candies as their favor to the guests! Not only did it add to the decorations of the reception, but it was a huge hit with the guests!

  • inexpensive wedding favors

  • Need more ideas? Beau Coup has great options for budget-friendly wedding favors. And they constantly have deals going on, so check the website often!

    Check back next week for more budget saving tips for your wedding! You can read our other Money Saving Tips for weddings posts on the blog.

    Photo courtesy of The Memory Journalists.



  • Natalie
  • posted by Natalie

  • Amy hosted July's book, "The Murderer's Daughters" by Randy Susan Meyers, at her adorable house in Midtown. The book is about two daughters who are orphaned at a young age when their father murders their mother, stabs one of them, and is imprisoned for his crime. For thirty years, the daughters try to make sense of what happened and both dread the day his attempts to win parole are successful.

  • The Murderer's Daughters by Randy Susan Meyers

  • We discussed the book while dining on baked brie and bread (with homemade salsa!), chicken skewers, and baked pita bread with mushrooms, cheese, spinach, tomato, and balsamic vinaigrette! The food was amazing! With summer activities in full swing, many people in our group did not have time to finish the book. However, those that did read it enjoyed it! I personally did not read it, but I loved the cookies Amy made for dessert! Jen was MIA for this meeting, but she did finish it (via Audible) and she said that she really enjoyed the dynamic between the two sisters and how they each coped differently from the loss of their mother.



  • Jennifer
  • posted by Jennifer

  • I recently met the entire Ruffing family and their newest addition, little Petey, for family photos.

  • Sacramento Family Photography

  • The other kids were super excited to be included in our newborn photo shoot. I may misspell some names, but we have Daphne, Eli, Luke, and Claire. I brought mugs for everyone and we had ourselves a tea party!

  • Sacramento Family Photography

  • Pete Jr. got the big tea cup.

  • Sacramento Family Photography

  • Everyone took turns at holding the new baby.

  • Sacramento Family Photography

  • Sacramento Family Photography

  • Once we started the shoot, it was easy to get everyone involved.

  • Sacramento Family Photography

  • How cute is this picture of Claire with Pete?

  • Sacramento Family Photography

  • Pete Jr. was only about a week old at this point and as you can see...super tiny compared to Dad's hand.

  • Sacramento Family Photography

  • Pete Sr. with his namesake.

  • Sacramento Family Photography

  • And my favorite picture of the entire shoot!

  • Sacramento Family Photography

  • Pete was wide-eyed for some of the time and I'm glad I captured his beautiful eyes.

  • Sacramento Family Photography



  • Jennifer
  • posted by Jennifer

  • This week on my Healthy Lifestyle column, I wanted to share with you what I've learned in my very short week of attempting meditation. As part of my 40 Day Transformation (that I wrote about last week), we are tasked with doing 5 minutes of meditation in the morning and 5 minutes at night. And meditating while laying down doesn't count.

    For me, I took meditation to mean, 5 minutes where I sit with my eyes closed and just focus on breathing. I'm not trying to do anything at all. I've read other books (unrelated to yoga) about how breathing exercises can really aid in keeping stress at bay. So I thought I'd give it a whirl and try this hocus-pocus stuff out.

    First off, I never even tried in the mornings. I'm just too time-boxed usually in the morning as I get up early (5am) in order to hit the gym with a friend by 6am. So 5 minutes in the morning is just impossible. So I attempted to double up at night. It really makes a difference to know WHEN is a good time to meditate.

    Second, I didn't sit as the woman depicted in the photo below. I know this is Lotus pose, but I just wanted to sit. They recommended that we set our timers on our phone, so that we don't keep looking at the clock. Even the, I found myself twitching and fidgety to move. Honestly, I've never had so many variety of reasons to move. My hair itched. My knee needed...I mean really needed...to pop. My arms needed to stretch. So the goal was to just sit still for 5 minutes and re-focus on each breath.

    Third, blow your nose before you start. I swear every breath I took I could hear my allergies. It bugged me the whole time.

    Even though I didn't do 5 minutes every night, I was able to do 4 nights. After my 5 minutes was up, I really felt more calm. I can see how, if I were to incorporate this daily, that it could really help calm the nerves. And it teaches oneself...to just breathe.

  • tips on meditating



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