Wednesday, September 29, 2010

My Tastes Have Not Changed

I’ve been working on a website for our wedding – trying to find good pictures of the two of us to use. It’s funny how many pictures we took in the beginning of our relationship. I wish we had more recent pictures of the two of us.

* Note to self. Take more pictures!

At least we have our engagement pictures to look forward to.

Dated: July 13, 2007Right around the time we started dating at a visit to the Getty

Dated: July 11, 2010A picture from this summer at a winery

Same couple, same dress. A totally different time in our lives.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

P-A-P-E-R!


I know this is silly and is all in my head but when it comes to the wedding paper I feel a lot of pressure. Everyone that knows me knows that paper is my thing. It’s my craft, my job, my passion. Really.

So I want to get it right. I’ve played around with a few ideas and think we have finally settled on something. It’s simple, the lines are clean, and I think it will set a nice tone for the wedding. I think it’s fitting.

I can’t wait to debut everything after it gets sent out. We are still a ways out but we will probably send the save the dates in October and then the invitations sometime in the spring.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Creative, Inc.: Non Crafty Need Not Apply

I've decided to make this a two part post:

First, I went to the Creative, Inc book release
Second, I’m looking for cool, crafty, fun, laid back ladies in the Bay Area who want to be friends. I'm serious. Read on.

So, a few weeks ago I went to the book signing/release party for Creative, Inc. at Candystore Collective.The book, Creative, Inc is a guide to running a successful freelance business. I can think of so many ways that this book could come in handy to help me grow Hello Cupcake. The book was written by Meg Ilasco and Joy Cho. Meg also wrote the book Craft, Inc. which I read a while back, blogged about and loved.

When I got to Candystore Collective, I picked up a copy of the book and waited in a short line to have it signed by the authors. I had the casual "Hello my name is" conversation with Joy and then I chatted briefly with Meg. My chat with Meg was awesome. She asked about my business, what I did, how it was going, offered nice words of encouragement, and complemented my purse. I really appreciated her spending the time. I also had a few samples of Hello Cupcake cards on me and offered one up to Meg. You can actually see the card she picked on the table! She was so nice and supportive. That meant a lot to me.Me standing in line to have the book signedThat's my purse and under Meg's arm (circled) is this Hello Cupcake card!

Now on to the friend issue. I went to the book signing by myself. It's not that I don't have friends; it's that I don't have friends that are aspiring creators, crafters, DIYers. That stinks. It seemed like everyone at the party had come in groups and it's not easy to walk up to a group of strangers that all know each other and seem deep in conversation. I did decide that I have to at least try to put myself out there. So I did. I walked up to two ladies who were talking to each other. A group of two seemed easier to break into than a group of six. The two ladies I met ended up working for Chronicle Books (the publisher of Creative, Inc.). One of the ladies was really nice and seemed open to speaking with someone new. The other....not so much.

Anyway, it just got me thinking that I really need to make some nice crafty friends. Seriously, you're an aspiring DIYer? Let’s grab lunch. Email me stacy@hellocupcakecreations.com

*Photos shown are from: HERE

Monday, September 20, 2010

Hunger Challenge Wrap up: Grin and Bear It but End on a Sweet Note

It was harder than I thought. It wasn’t fun at all. It made me feel bad - physically, mentally and emotionally. There were days when I woke up with a looming feeling of sadness. Like something terrible had happened – a loss, a mistake, regret. Yet the only thing I lost was the ability to eat what I wanted when I wanted. I wasn’t hungry, but I was unhappy. I lost the freedom to enjoy food.

I came out with a new perspective, a fresh reminder of why I go into work each day, a better understanding of the need that surrounds me.

The realization that yes, it is possible to live on just $4 per day, but no, it is not possible to really “live” on just $4 per day. Does that make sense?

To really understand it, you must try it. Not for a day or two – but really, try it. No cheating. You can’t be partially dedicated and expect to really “get it”.

Gain a new perspective in one week’s time. That’s pretty neat if you ask me.

This made quite an impact on me.

Money spent on food:

Day 1: Total: $2.95
Day 2: Total: $4.10
Day 3: Total: $4.43
Day 4: Total: $3.74
Day 5: Total: $3.15
Day 6: Total: $4.28*
Day 7: Total: $3.56*

Grand Total for the week: $26.21

*Day 6: I had coffee, breakfast taco, chili, lasagna
*Day 7: I had coffee, breakfast taco, meatloaf, cupcake

Bear in tie is from Berkley Illustration

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Hunger Challenge Day 5: Temptation

I left my lunch at home today. I was left with two choices:
1.) Try to make my oatmeal and small snacks get me by till dinner
2.) Drive through McDonalds and get something filling off the $1 menu

What do you think I did? What would you have done? What if this was a reality you faced every day? No food to eat, a few dollars in your pocket and you are hungry. Unfortunately, in San Francisco, 150,000 people struggle each day to feed themselves and their families. This scenario I faced is probably not new for them.

Me. I decided not to give to the lure of McDonalds. By 4:00, I found it really hard to concentrate and focus. I was so hungry. But really? Skipping one meal? That's not what it's like to really be hungry. I'm so fortunate.

On a side note, my co-worker Dana who is also taking the Hunger Challenge offered me one of her Sweet Potato Tofu Burgers! Thanks Dana!

For dinner, I made breakfast tacos for Christoph and me. My Breakfast Taco Recipe:
- 5 eggs
- 1 potato (diced)
- ¼ Onion (diced)
- 1 can green chilies (My Dad lives in New Mexico and sends these to me)
- 1 slice of cheese
- 4 slices of bacon
- Butter

- Microwave your potato till it’s soft (3 min each side)
- Cook your bacon (I cook mine in the microwave….easy)
- Lightly sauté your onions and add in the microwaved, diced potato
- Add cut up cheese, eggs and green chilies to the potatoes and onion
- Cut your bacon and add to the egg mix
- Stick it inside a tortilla

Money Well Spent:
Coffee: $0.50
Oatmeal: $0.25
Yogurt: $0.50
Breakfast taco: $1.40
Angel Food Cake and Strawberries: $0.50

Total: $3.15

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Hunger Challenge Day 4: I’m eating my words. At least they are free (unfortunately, they aren’t filling)

Remember when I blogged “I hope I’m not being overly confident and optimistic but I think I can handle this. At the very least, it’s only one week and as it stands now, I am very conscious of my food spending habits.”?

What a joke!

Everyone else around me is able to eat whatever they want without giving it a second thought. I’m so envious. It actually makes me a little angry. I feel like I can’t enjoy a meal (and I LOVE to eat). It’s hard to imagine that this is just a small glimpse into what it feels like to live on food stamps.

This morning for breakfast I ate the standard oatmeal with brown sugar and coffee from home. I was actually excited about my lunch. I had brought a can of pea soup and a few slices of bacon to cook and add in. I also had some toast.Yuck! Salt overload! I didn’t finish the whole soup. It would have counted for almost 60% of my daily sodium intake. Gross! The more I ate the more I started to feel like Oliver Twist. The line *“Please Sir, I want some more” *{insert British accent} played in my head. I didn’t want more, but I was relating to Oliver. I’m hungry, this tastes like crap and this is all I have.

For dinner, I’m becoming a master of disguise. I decided to take the leftover spaghetti sauce (it has ground turkey and veggies in it) and turn it into mini lasagna casseroles. I had enough to make 3 mini lasagna casseroles with the leftover sauce. It was great! Is it just me or does everything taste better when cooked as a mini casserole?
Money Well Spent:
Coffee: $0.50
Oatmeal: $0.25
Soup with Bacon: $1.25
Toast: $0.08
Apple: $0.33
Lasagna: $1.33 per serving

Total: $3.74

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Hunger Challenge Day 3: A New Day and a New Outlook

I think the angel food cake and strawberries saved me (ha ha…there’s a pun in there). It was the first thing I had all week that made me feel like I was not eating on a budget. I would highly recommend a “splurge item” for any other Hunger Challenge participants if you have the money.

I ate pretty simply today.

Breakfast was oatmeal with brown sugar and coffee from home.Notice anything familiar on my computer screen? No? They why aren’t you following the San Francisco Food Bank on Facebook?

For lunch I had a pepperoni pizza lean pocket. I actually love these.

For dinner I got a little more creative. I knew I was having leftover chili but wanted to disguise it since this was the third day in a row that I was having it. I turned it into a chili baked potato and had a side salad. It was delicious. I would consider it a comfort food.Christoph on the other hand ordered take out. I was handling it pretty well until he pulled out dessert. Mango sticky rice! It’s one of my favorite things to eat (dessert or not). I love it so much that I had it as part of my send off dinner on Saturday night before starting the hunger challenge. I can’t believe he did that! But, I thought this might happen.

How many more days left of this challenge? Ugh. Four more.

Money Well Spent:
Coffee: $0.50
Oatmeal: $0.25
Pretzels: $0.30
Apple: $0.33
Hot Pocket: $1.00
Chili and Corn Bread: $1.05
Potato: $0.50
Two bites of mango sticky rice: $0.50

Total: $4.43

Monday, September 13, 2010

Hunger Challenge: Reality Check

It’s only day two and already I feel like this?

It’s not that I don’t have enough to eat or that the food is that bad, it’s knowing that I don’t have the freedom to eat what I want when I want. That every bite I take over the next six days has already been carefully planned out. That I can’t change my mind because I can’t afford to. I don’t like that.

I started the morning with my normal cup of coffee. I had planned to have oatmeal for breakfast but got busy at work and didn’t have the time. I had a few pretzels and decided to have an early lunch. Lunch consisted of left over chili from the day before.I had an appointment on my lunch break to give blood at Blood Centers of the Pacific. I saw that there was a need for blood donations after the San Bruno gas explosion. I made my way to my appointment and when I got there I was told that they were running 1.5-2 hours behind on appointments. That’s frustrating for a few reasons:
1.) I had made my way across town on my lunch break to give blood
2.) The blood center had my phone and email and didn’t try to let me know they were so far behind
3.) I was looking forward to my juice and snack after giving blood!!!! I think I even saw a glimpse of a sugar donut in the mix. If only I had two hours to wait around!

On my way home from work I decided to spend my last $3.00. Goodbye cookie crutch. I hope I won’t miss you.

I bought:
- Strawberries: $1.50
- Angel food cake: $1.50 (Paid $3.00 but will be shared with Christoph)

Total spent for the week: $28.56

For dinner, I made spaghetti, garlic toast and a salad for Christoph and me.My Spaghetti Sauce Recipe:
- Ground turkey
- 1 Jar of spaghetti sauce*
- 1/3 of an onion (diced)
- 1 Garlic Clove
- 1/2 bell pepper (diced)

- Start to brown the turkey and add the onion and garlic
- Once turkey is browned add all of the other ingredients together
- That’s it…you’re done. (Yep, same as the chili!)

*I bought Ragu because it was on sale and Christoph said, “wow, you really are sticking to the $4 a day budget”. We never buy Ragu. But the meal ended up being delicious!

For dessert I used my angle food cake and strawberries.Yum! What a treat! It felt like I was eating gourmet and it felt good.

Money Well Spent:
Coffee: $0.50
Pretzels: $0.30
Chili and Corn Bread: 1.05 per serving (total cost for all items $6.30/6 servings)
Spaghetti and Toast: $1.00 per serving (total cost for all items $6.00/6 servings)
Salad: $0.75 (total cost for all items $4.50/6 servings)
Angel Food Cake and Strawberries: $0.50 (total cost for all items $4.00/8 servings)

Total: $4.10

Hunger Challenge: One Down and Six to Go

So here we go – the Hunger Challenge has officially started!

The morning started out like any other Sunday. Coffee….I need my coffee. I also made a late breakfast for Christoph and me: Toast, Scrambled Eggs and Bacon.
I was on my own for the rest of the day because Christoph had to go to work. I decided to take Ginger for a run. We made our way down to a popular boutique shopping street. I was window shopping but I was really in the mood for a snack, I even had my wallet on me….but snacks weren’t in my Hunger Challenge budget. As I was walking along, depending on what store I walked by, this is what was going through my head: I want a smoothie. I want frozen yogurt, I want a cupcake.

I decided it was time to get off that street.

I made my way home and had a piece of toast as a snack then made chili and cornbread for dinner.My Chili Recipe:
- 1 pound of Ground Turkey
- 1 can of chili beans
- 1 can of kidney beans (drained)
- 1 can of diced tomatoes
- 1/3 of an onion (diced)
- 1 Garlic Clove
- Paprika

This is super easy to make and it heats up nicely

- Start to brown the turkey and add the onion and garlic
- Once turkey is browned add all of the other ingredients together
- That’s it…you’re done.

The cornbread was a simple mix.

Money Well Spent:
Coffee: $0.50
Bacon, Eggs, toast: $0.90 (total cost for all items $5.30/6 servings)
Snack: $0.50
Chili and Corn Bread: 1.05 per serving (total cost for all items $6.30/6 servings)

Total: $2.95

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Hunger Challenge: Shopping

Realization: This is going to be tougher than I thought. Darn.

I spent a good hour of my Friday night pouring over the ads and putting together a shopping list. My menu included only ingredients that were on sale. I also decided to try to save a few dollars just in case of an emergency (emergency being me having a terrible day and needing a cookie from Whole Foods).
Ginger helping me put together my list

This is what I bought and what I’ve spent so far:
- Ground Turkey: $3.00
- Bread: $1.25
- Pretzels: 1.50
- Diced Tomatoes: $0.50 (*Paid $1.00 but will be shared with Christoph)
- Spaghetti Sauce: $0.50 (*Paid $1.00 but will be shared with Christoph)
- Chili Beans: $0.50 (*Paid $1.00 but will be shared with Christoph)
- Canned Soup: $1.00
- Eggs: $1.50
- Hot Pockets: $2.00
- Yogurt: 1.50 (Purchased 3 at $0.50 each)
- Cucumber: $0.50 (*Paid $1.00 but will be shared with Christoph)
- Apples: $1.00 (3 small apples that totaled 1 LB)
- Bell Pepper: $0.50 (*Paid $1.00 but will be shared with Christoph)
- Pasta: $0.50 (*Paid $1.00 but will be shared with Christoph)
- Lettuce: $0.50 (*Paid $1.00 but will be shared with Christoph)
- Carrots $1.10
- Onion: $0.50 (*Paid $1.00 but will be shared with Christoph)
- Cornbread Mix: $0.33 (*Paid $0.55 but will be shared with Christoph)
- Bacon: $3.00
- Potatoes: $1.00
Total Paid: $22.18
*I am only including half the cost on some items that Christoph will be eating as well.

Items I will be using from home:
Oatmeal: $0.85 (2 cups total)
Brown Sugar: $0.15 (A few pinches)
Butter: $0.63 (One stick)
Cream: $0.50 (Half a pint)
Coffee: $1.00 (Around 9 tablespoons)
Spices: $0.25
Total: $3.38

Grand Total: $25.56

Friday, September 10, 2010

The Hunger Challenge….Eating on just $4 per day


Starting this Sunday, I will be participating in the San Francisco Food Bank’s third annual Hunger Challenge. To participate in the challenge, I am going to try living on a food stamp budget for one week. That’s just $4 a day (per person) for my entire food and drink budget! I will be sharing the experience right here on my blog.

I hope I’m not being overly confident and optimistic but I think I can handle this. At the very least, it’s only one week and as it stands now, I am very conscious of my food spending habits. Remember that time I made a thanksgiving dinner for under $12?

This is my normal food spending routine:
- Review the weekly grocery store ads and plan my meals accordingly
- I make one trip to the grocery store each week
- We usually go out to dinner once a week
- We usually order take out one night a week

So the big change will be the take out and the dining out. Those are obviously not in my budget ($28 for the week). I also think it will be a bit of a challenge to separate my meals from Christoph’s since he isn’t taking the challenge. I can foresee him ordering takeout while I’m eating my Hunger Challenge meal….that won’t be fun.

There is still time to join in if you are interested in taking the challenge too!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

My Perfect Color Palate


I love these colors. I’m so drawn to them. They make me happy. 90% of the things I make for Hello Cupcake include the colors teal, lime green and yellow.

So it’s safe to say….I want to include them in our wedding colors!

I still don’t have a plan of how I will be using each of these colors, but they’ll be there! What do you think?

Thursday, September 2, 2010

10 months from today

I will marry my very best friend - the love of my life.

To top it all off, everyone I love and care about will be in the same room at the same time! I can’t wait! The thought is just overwhelming!!!!

I’ve gotten over my wedding planning dry spell and have actually made quite a bit of progress. I’m not ready to spoil the details yet but this is a bit of my inspiration.

Images: Shabby Chic Wedding, SF City Hall, Jean Tsai Photography, Emma Cakes, Elizabeth Anne Designs, Source Unknown (sent to me by a friend)