Living Room Update || Making the "In Progress" Work

Living room coffee table picnic | A Fabulous Fete

Have you guys ever set a word for the year? I talked about my first one in 2015 here, and have set one every year since. That first one though, I can honestly say made an impact. I'm a procrastinator, I'm not sure if it will ever change, but I'm improving a tiny tiny bit every day. So when I said "NOW" would be my word (like do it now, not later because you won't), it has lingered ever since.

With that being said, things have started to shift around the house since then. We've cleaned and cleared and kept junk piles (mostly) out of the corners and off tables. The laundry + dishes (usually) get done pretty quickly, and most importantly, we've started to tackle projects around the house. One giant, blinding mess that we ignored for years was a massive pool table in our living room. We used it a few times when we first set it up (it was handed down) and then it quickly became the place to throw crap when you came home. I kid you not, there were things on and under it that sat for years (gross and pointless). Like, clearly you don't need it if it's been sitting under a table for 3 years! So in 2016 I took some pictures, put it on craigslist and it was out of there within a week. Now we have this amazing open and airy space to do ANYTHING in... but collect junk.

Soooo... now, that means we have to fill it with something. You know, like furniture. And that is always a long process (find it, think about it, wait and think some more about it because you don't want to spend all that money on it, then when you do make the leap wait another 15 years for them to make and ship it). We finally landed on a snazzy little velvet couch, but are in that waiting period as they weave the fabric and whittle the legs from trees (kidding, but it feels like an eternity once you make that jump and buy a piece of furniture). And we are living in the "in between". 

With the holidays, I wanted to make this work. I wanted a space for our tree, for us to sit and for my girls and I to have wine night. So a while back when I partnered with Zola (you can see the posts here and here), I knew exactly what I needed to create the content for our partnership AND create something cozy for our space. While our partnership was to share their amazing registry selection, I also wanted to share all of the images as inspiration for a simple indoor space as it's been working for us for the past few months now.

Living room update | A Fabulous Fete
Simple pieces for easy entertaining | A Fabulous Fete
A simple living room picnic with friends | A Fabulous Fete

They had this fantastic wood table that I had actually been drooling over from another store. That was an easy decision. Then I picked up a few rugs, lots of fluffy blankets and pillows, topped the table with simple but eye catching serveware and that was it! I hosted a girls night here, we opened presents here, and I watched a few movies here. Even without being finished I love how it's turning out being my indoor picnic space;)

We (I) still have some work to do besides positioning the couch when it arrives. I'll be updating our art wall, hopefully some new shelves to showcase things we've brought back from travels, moving the bar cart and re-styling to make it a place to relax with a cocktail and finally find some plants I can keep alive for a while.

I will share more of the process, and these pictures were definitely done up for the occasion. It isn't this glamorous everyday! I will also share what it looked like before so you can get an idea of how far it came by the time we're done.

Gold plated ceramic appetizer dishes | A Fabulous Fete
Kate Spade pitcher | A Fabulous Fete
Cozy winter get togethers at home | A Fabulous Fete
Get togethers at home with an easy spread and flowers you can grab at the grocery store | A Fabulous Fete
Wood table with cozy blankets for winter get togethers | A Fabulous Fete
Piles of pillows and blankets for getting together around the coffee table | A Fabulous Fete
Gold cheese knives and matching appetizer plates | A Fabulous Fete
Recent progress on our living room update | A Fabulous Fete

I envision at least a few more days/nights of me relaxing here in my pillow fort while I can still make not having anywhere else to sit an excuse. 

Here are a few of the pieces we sourced so far for the room and used for our shoot with Zola!

New Year, Same Me (but in case we haven't met...)

I sort of have this love/hate relationship with the new year. I LOVE that I feel inspired all over again to reinvent and improve things, but I HATE that it takes the new year to make a lot of us feel like that! After taking a short break over the holidays, I thought a lot about what I want to share here this year, and what things made me procrastinate when it came to creating content for the blog (ie. why was I making it so hard on myself?). I think there was a lot of pressure to create amazing content, which I still love to do, but I do think there is a lot of room for me to share other stuff here that isn't as curated, styled or planned. Like, more behind the scenes, more business advice, a bigger look into calligraphy as well as more tutorials and tips/tricks... just overall, a deeper look into what goes on here, and in real life, every day.

I'd noticed that as all sides of my business have grown (including both A Fabulous Fete and Wilde House), people are interested in hearing about that journey, what differentiates the 2 companies and my role in all of it. SO. I thought, what better time that January 2017 to re-introduce myself, my businesses and hear a bit more about what you guys want to read. This has also most definitely prompted an about page update... but I'm waiting on a fun logo/site facelift to make that happen;)

Let's start with a bit about AFF and our "HQ"! I thought it was funny, when I was interviewing for an assistant, a lot of people thought that we would be working from an office... Instagram and pretty blog photos (I guess) can make it look that way. But, we have actually just taken over most of the spare bedrooms in our home to run both AFF and WH. We ALL (sometimes 4 or 5 of us, depending on the tasks that day) work from here, usually on alternating times and days (thank god, it would get pretty cozy otherwise). We do have a legit office space with our desks, computers, etc. it's not just girls on their laptops on the couch;) Although it did start that way back in the day! AFF has grown from me writing for the blog (first few years of that embarrassing blog had to be deleted, such a shame) at night after I came home from my day job. I worked at a corporate eyewear/apparel company as a developer (aka, I worked with factories all over the world to get stuff made, negotiate pricing, etc.). There were so many spreadsheets and emails and grey cubicle walls that I needed an outlet. After I wrote for the blog for a few months, I started an etsy shop where I handmade party supplies. That was back at the time when we were all obsessed with washi tape drink stirrers, tissue paper pom poms and thinks like that. My little drink stirrers even made it into Martha Stewart Weddings, cray... Anyways, my journey from there went something like this: I wanted to make parties in a box --> these were a bitch to pack and ship --> left that idea and tried styling parties instead --> good, but I didn't like working on the weekend --> tried calligraphy --> sucked at it for a year or two but got better at it and did a friends wedding invites and reception items --> started to build my etsy shop out with a little calligraphy --> thought I wanted to be a wedding planner --> assisted at a wedding, hated it, dropped that idea --> started to actually get calligraphy orders and thought more about pursuing it --> got really stressed out that I couldn't work full time AND grow my callig biz --> quit my job in 2012, had NO money for a long time but worked hard --> here I am today. And ya, that all took around 6 years. I talked a little more about having real expectations here if you want to dive deeper into that! 

Even though I feel like my business has found it's sweet spot, we are always evolving, every day. I don't think I'll ever settle down and JUST do wedding invitations. I have a love for so many other things that I know we'll keep expanding and finding new things we can offer! Which brings me to company number 2, which I started with a friend (who actually started out working with me for AFF!) Megan. Wilde House Paper...

What is Wilde House Paper? I don't think I've ever really explained it enough here... we kind of just jumped into it and never looked back. Megan and I are both stationery obsessed. And while working on wedding stationery is amazing and beautiful and fun, it's always very unique to your client and not something you can use in your everyday life. So forming a company that we could use our lifestyle ideas on was super exciting to both of us. We bounced around a lot of ideas and landed on starting Wilde House as a subscription box company with intention to grow into more products down the road. We launched our first box in November of 2015 and have been designing a collaborative stationery box every month since. Basically, we both gather inspiration for each months box and come up with a color palette and theme. From there we hand letter, illustrate and design 4 to 5 products that are printed and shipped out to our subscribers at the beginning of each month. We've also started to include small "styling extras" to encourage our followers to get inspired with their spaces and style up their desks, homes, or wherever they use their new stationery (and then share on instagram, duh;). It is extremely fast paced and sometimes a struggle with thousands of miles in between us (CA to PA!), but we love it and our growth over the past year is hard to argue with... I think everyone loves getting a surprise in the mail monthly, that is NOT a bill!

We had a small holiday shop in 2016 which was a new experience as we never had an "a la carte" shop. And while that is still on the agenda for the future, we have something even more exciting launching at the end of the month. But more on that coming soon!

So ya, it's been a long winding journey... I graduated high school with the intention of being a fashion designer. I attended FIDM, worked for a small clothing company for about 6 months and from there went straight to the corporate world which is how AFF was born shortly after. It's crazy how things work out, and even crazier to think about what is in store for the future!

I hope that this gives you a better look into what it is that goes on here. I know there's plenty of other little things we can talk about too which I'm excited to write about (how do you organize this into one day? how do you stay inspired? how do you work in a partnership? how do you hire your first employees? right?) 

But I'd also love know what you are dying get more info on too! I'm hoping that in addition to the diys, flowers, parties, and inspiration I share here, that I can also start sharing more advice or tips that is requested by you guys. So share in the comments if you have a question!

Images by Sunny Kim Photography

Kicking off 2017 with a Road Trip || Santa Barbara

Overnighter Billabong bag | A Fabulous Fete

Welcome back everyone! I hope you all got to take a little time to yourselves over the holidays. I had lots of plans (as usual)... works goals, home goals, alllll the goals. And then I was just like wait, you worked so hard to take some time off, TAKE IT OFF. And so I did. But, I did work towards one of the things I want to do more in 2017, and that is get out of town. We have so much to do in Southern California, lots of it literally within 20 to 30 minutes of us, and we don't take advantage of it. So while we had our little bit of time off, we decided to head up the coast and spend a night in Santa Barbara.

We didn't have any expectations for the trip. We were taking our dogs, going on New Years day, and it's the middle of winter. So it was cold, lots of places closed early, but we had fun, found places we could hang out at and made the most of it! I found the cutest hotel on Expedia (my go-to, i'm pretty lazy about hotel research) that allowed our extra large + extra small dogs called Hotel Milo. Our room was super spacious and located on the adorable courtyard pictured below. There were complimentary bikes you could cruise around town on, a nightly happy hour (which we took full advantage of, obviously) with a few local wines, and about 1462 photo opps with all of their lush succulent and palm gardens. We're most definitely going back.

We took a walk down the pier, headed to one of the dog friendly tasting rooms, DV8, and then had dinner at a restaurant called Cadiz (trust me and order the mushroom risotto + ahi bruschetta if it's still available). Somehow all of this filled the entire day. We were hoping to visit a few more of the tasting rooms but since many of them were closed for the holiday, all that were open were completely packed. Much of our wine tasting was done at the happy hour that our hotel hosted (well, i guess more drinking than tasting)... they had cozy little fire pits that kept us warm for a few hours until it was time for dinner. The next morning we tried out Sambo's, a retro diner we pass every time we have been to SB but had never had the chance to stop at. They have giant mimosas and crab + avocado omelettes, enough said.

Basically everything we did was on a whim or something we quickly googled, and it all ended up being perfectly cute, comfortable, delicious and entertaining... sometimes not planning is the way to go! But, if you're going to spend 24 hours (or less) try out everything above and I don't think you will be disappointed. Now for the most important part, the pictures!

What to do in the winter in Santa Barbara | A Fabulous Fete
My picks for 24 hours in Santa Barbara | A Fabulous Fete
Dog friendly picks for visiting Santa Barbara | A Fabulous Fete
Wine tasting in Santa Barbara | A Fabulous Fete
Hotel Milo in Santa Barbara | A Fabulous Fete
Giant succulents | A Fabulous Fete
Dog friendly wine tasting in Santa Barbara | A Fabulous Fete
24 hours in Santa Barbara | A Fabulous Fete
Winter nights wine tasting | A Fabulous Fete
How we spent 24 hours in Santa Barbara | A Fabulous Fete
2017 Resolutions and goals | A Fabulous Fete
California palms | A Fabulous Fete

And a quick recap of our recs from this trip...

  • Stay at Hotel Milo (dog friendly!)
  • Wine at the dog friendly tasting room DV8
  • Dine at Cadiz for Italian/Spanish cuisine
  • Brunch at Sambo's



3 Simple Ways to Wrap Your Gifts This Year

How I am wrapping my gifts this year | A Fabulous Fete

I've mentioned it several times... I'm not a huge fan of wrapping any sort of package. I like to wing it (I hate measuring) so knowing how and where to cut paper, folding things so they don't bunch, or having to go back and trim off excess wrapping is not my thing. Usually I try and make the top of things look flat (when it comes to presents) and tape the shit out of the bottom to keep it shut. SO, to make up for that, I've started to add pretty things to the tops of my packages over the years. I hope that it distracts the recipients and makes them not care about the rest of my poor wrapping skills. 

I literally had an excess of like 50 clear ornaments from a project I did, so I've been finding any way I can to use them (I even tried to GIVE them away to friends one night, no takers). We listed custom ornaments here in the shop which has steadily sent many of the ornaments out into the world, but I needed a few other reasons to use them. They turned out making fabulous little gift toppers when filled with festive accoutrements (stuff;) and I wanted to show you what I used and ended up loving on our simple little packages!

3 ways to spruce up plain wrapping paper with DIY ornaments | A Fabulous Fete
3 Ideas for sprucing up clear ornaments. Use them on your tree or to wrap presents! | A Fabulous Fete
3 simple ways to add interest to plain holiday wrapping paper | A Fabulous Fete
Dried peony petals dropped into clear ornaments make gorgeous gift toppers! | A Fabulous Fete

To open the ornaments, there's a thin wire at the top that expands. Squeeze the 2 sides together and pop off the silver top. Tuck in anything small enough, or soft, and you have yourself a festive gift topper! 

We used:

Add silk ribbon to clear ornaments and use to top plain white packages | A Fabulous Fete
Silk ribbon to wrap simple white holiday gifts | A Fabulous Fete
3 ideas for wrapping your presents this year | A Fabulous Fete
Silk ribbon + these DIY ornaments makes any simple wrapping paper look extra fancy! | A Fabulous Fete
Ideas for sprucing up the simplest packages this holiday season | A Fabulous Fete

They're quick, easy and fun and don't require much skill... just a little creativity with your filler choices! Shop items above or just check out your local craft store for the same types of items.

Images by Sunny Kim

Wood Wedding Signage | Calligraphy

Custom wood calligraphy sign for wedding reception | A Fabulous Fete

A few months ago I worked with my client, Meghan, from the beginning of designing her wedding suite through to the day of items (which you can see here). We created pieces keeping in the color scheme of deep burgundy, greens and gold. They also requested this oversized wood sign with a short quote. I love when couples create items like this that serve as decor on their wedding day as well as decor in their home long after that day is over. It's a pretty little reminder that you can keep out all year round.

We had a simple piece of wood from the hardware store cut to size. After I stained it, I lettered in their quote with a white paint pen (this brand is my fave). I joked about keeping it if it didn't have their names on it... but really, I was completely serious. I said I would make myself a smaller version with a quote/phrase of our own. But you know how personal projects go;) So I wanted to share a few pictures of the finished piece! If you are looking for something similar, you can email us here to get a quote.

White calligraphy on wood | A Fabulous Fete
Custom quote signs for your wedding | A Fabulous Fete
Wood home decor | A Fabulous Fete
Rustic calligraphy signs for your wedding or home | A Fabulous Fete
Rustic wood signage by A Fabulous Fete